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You get a card, a call, or an email telling you that you won! Maybe it's a trip or a prize, a lottery or a sweepstakes. The person calling is so excited and can't wait for you to get your winnings.
But here's what happens next: they tell you there's a fee, some taxes, or customs duties to pay. And then they ask for your credit card number or bank account information, or they ask you to wire money.
Either way, you lose money instead of winning it. You don't ever get that big prize. Instead, you get more requests for money, and more promises that you won big.
If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC's investigators identify the scammers and stop them before they can get someone's hard-earned money. It really makes a difference.
Want to know more? Sign up for scam alerts at ftc.gov/subscribe
Federal Trade Commission | ftc.gov/PassItOn
You get a call: "Grandma, I need money for bail." Or money for a medical bill. Or some other kind of trouble. The caller says it's urgent — and tells you to keep it a secret.
But is the caller who you think it is? Scammers are good at pretending to be someone they're not. They can be convincing: sometimes using information from social networking sites, or hacking into your loved one's email account, to make it seem more real. And they'll pressure you to send money before you have time to think.
You meet someone special on a dating website. Soon he wants to move off the dating site to email or phone calls. He tells you he loves you, but he lives far away — maybe for business, or because he's in the military.
Then he asks for money. He might say it's for a plane ticket to visit you. Or emergency surgery. Or something else urgent.
Scammers, both male and female, make fake dating profiles, sometimes using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They build relationships — some even fake wedding plans — before they disappear with your money.
You get a pop-up or other urgent message from someone saying your computer is infected. It might seem like the message comes from a well-known company like Microsoft or Apple, or maybe your internet service provider. It tells you there are viruses or other malware on your computer. It says you have to call a number or risk losing your personal data.
But is this threat – or their problem – real? Judging by reports to the Federal Trade Commission, no. These are scammers who want to sell you useless services, steal your credit card number, or get access to your computer to install malware, which could then let them see everything on your computer.
Here's what you can do:
Federal Trade Commission: Scams and Your Small Business PDF
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