Scam #1: Tech Support Scams
Tech support scams happen when someone contacts you claiming to be from a well-known technology company and requests remote access to your computer. This often happens through emails or pop-ups on your computer.
Sometimes the caller says they have identified a problem and offers to fix your computer for a fee. If you give them access, they may install malicious software to steal your personal or financial information.
Other times, the scammer offers a "refund" for a discontinued service or an accidental overcharge. If you give them access to your online banking, they will make it appear as if they are sending you a refund, but they are actually transferring money from your own accounts. Often, the refund is for much more than promised (e.g., $30,000 instead of $300). The scammer makes a plea for you to send the extra money back, so they do not lose their job. They may request you to wire money to a foreign country, purchase gift cards, or mail cash.
To help avoid this scam:
- Never give control of your computer to anyone who contacts you. If you receive a call about a computer problem, hang up. If you suspect something is wrong with your computer or believe the scammer obtained access to it, bring it to a reputable company for a malware check.
- Don't trust phone numbers provided to you in an email, voicemail, or pop-up ad. If you want to call the company, use the customer service number on their official website.
- If you are asked to wire money from a recent deposit or overpayment, discuss the situation with a banker or trusted friend or family member. Be truthful about the situation since many scammers direct you to lie about why you're sending the money.
- Review your account activity to spot signs of fraud, such as an online transfer from your own savings, credit card, or home equity line of credit.
Scam #2: Online Shopping Scams
Online shopping scams can be tricky to spot because scammers often create realistic websites and social media ads with great deals. Typically, the scammer requests payment through a mobile payment app or wire transfer because they are typically irreversible. If you wire money to the scammer, you will never receive the product and likely not get your money back.
To help avoid this scam:
- Scammers will sometimes purchase ads to direct you to their website, so research the seller or product before you buy.
- Watch out for deals that are too good to be true.
- Do not pay for online products with a wire transfer or mobile payment app. Use a credit card, when you can.
More wire transfer scams:
- Family emergency or grandparent scam: Scammers try to trick you into thinking a loved one is in trouble. They call, text, email, or send messages on social media about a supposed emergency with a family member or friend. They ask you to send money immediately. To make their story seem real, they may claim to be an authority figure, like a lawyer or police officer; they may have or guess at facts about your loved one. These imposters may insist that you keep quiet about their demand for money to keep you from checking out their story and identifying them as imposters. (FTC.com)
- Romance scam: You meet someone, usually through an online app or social media site, and start a relationship. Your online interest starts admitting their love for you and then begins to ask for money to help with costs such as customs fees and medical costs.
If you're a victim of a wire transfer scam, report it to us immediately to attempt to recall the wire. You can also report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.