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25 Ways Scammers Prey on Americans

Scammers often trick people into losing money. A report from the Federal Trade Commission reveals a loss of $2.7 billion to social media scams in America from January 2021 to June 2023. Stay alert by understanding these 25 common scams. 

Phishing Scams

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Cybercriminals send fake emails and texts asking you to click a link to verify personal information. This is a common trick to steal your personal information and access your accounts. 

An estimated 3.4 billion spam emails are sent every day. You should always avoid clicking on unsolicited links or calling unknown numbers.

Romance Scams

Compare Prices Shopping Check

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In the US, more than 57 million people use dating apps, making them a prime target for scammers. 

These fraudsters create false online relationships to request money. To stay safe, send money to individuals you’ve met in person and know.

Refund Scams 

Online Shopping Rewards Credit Card

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Scammers often pose as representatives from reputable companies, alleging that the victims owe refunds. They ask for sensitive details such as banking information or one-time passcodes to process the refund. 

They intend to misuse this information to steal money and identity. To guard against such refund scams, be aware that legitimate companies do not request personal or banking information to process refunds.

Government Imposter Scams

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Tricksters often pose as government agents, demanding money through wire transfers or gift cards. 

Always remember that genuine government officials will provide official documentation before requesting payments.  

Puppy Scams

Dog Beds Pets

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Fake online ads offer nonexistent puppies. A BBS study shows that the average monetary loss to pet scams has shot up to $850 and a total of $1,340,770. Always buy pets from reputable breeders in person.

Fake Check Scams

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Scammers often overpay with fake item checks, asking you to wire back the difference. You lose that money when the check bounces later. Wire back money only after a check officially clears.

Car Wrap Advertising Scams

Sales Car Selling Mortgage Loans

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Con artists offer seemingly easy money to wrap your car with ads. You deposit their fake check, pay the “advertising company,” and then lose that money when the check bounces. 

Mystery Shopper Scams

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These scams offer fake mystery shopping gigs requiring upfront payment for assignments. Legitimate mystery shopping companies do not charge you to work for them.

Jury Duty Scams

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Scammers pretend to be court employees, claiming you missed jury duty. They threaten fines or arrest if you do not pay over the phone. Always remember that courts do not demand immediate fines for missed jury duty.

Disaster Relief Scams

Paramedics in uniform putting injured man on stretcher in ambulance car

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Scammers set up fake charities after disasters. Verify charities before donating, and prefer direct donations.

Inheritance Scams

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Con artists say you inherited money from a long-lost relative and must pay fees to release the funds. Any message claiming you received an unexpected inheritance from someone you don’t know is a scam.

Social Security Scams

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Imposters call pretending to be from the Social Security Administration, claiming your benefits are suspended unless you pay a fee. Hang up – the SSA does not threaten benefit suspension or ask for payments over the phone.

Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams

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You get calls, emails, or letters saying you won money in a lottery. Scammers request upfront fees to release your winnings but never pay out. Legitimate contests do not ask for money to release prizes.

Robocall Scams

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Illegal robocalls use prerecorded messages to pitch products, make false threats, or get victims to pay fines. Do not interact with these calls, as it marks you as a potential target.

Credit Card Skimming

A woman smiling and looking in front of her as she uses her credit card with her laptop.

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Skimmers are devices installed on ATMs and gas pumps to steal card information. You should always cover the keypad as you type. Check statements regularly for unauthorized charges.

Fake Invoice Scams

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Scammers email fake invoices demanding payment for a nonexistent service or product. They hope rushed employees will pay without verifying. Always confirm invoices with your vendors.

QR Code Scams

Shoplifting is a crime. Teenage girl being caught on stealing clothes by female security guard. Customer thief

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Fraudsters place fake QR codes on parking meters, signs, or tables, directing victims to malicious sites to steal sensitive personal information. Scan QR codes from trusted sources.

Rental Property Scams

Colourful houses on the tropical island of Barbados in the Caribbean

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Con artists list properties online that aren’t for rent to lure victims. They ask for a token amount or deposits before allowing a property tour. Never rent without seeing the property.

Bank Scams

vault bank door open on blue sky

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Criminals pose as your bank and ask for personal information to “verify your identity.” Banks do not ask for full account details for Social Security numbers this way. Natural banks won’t call or email asking for full account details or Social Security numbers.

Tech Support Scams

Programmer and UX UI designer working in a software development and coding technologies. Mobile and website design and programing development technology.

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Fraudsters call, pretending to be from well-known tech companies. They claim your computer has issues. They show false virus alerts and charge for unnecessary services.

Grandparent Scams

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Imposters pretend to be your grandchild, saying they need urgent money. Always verify with your family before sending funds to anyone.

AI-Powered Scams

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As AI advances, the risks of AI-powered scams are also rising. Using voice cloning and Deepfakes, scammers can pretend to be your family. Don’t trust strange new messages, even in your loved ones’ voices. Always talk to them directly.  

Traveling Scams

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Criminals target vacationers by pretending to be helpful locals who say they found valuable jewelry you dropped. Avoid engaging with overly friendly strangers.

Probate Scams

Widow crying old

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Scammers contact grieving widows, claiming unclaimed money left by the deceased. They ask for fees for funds that do not exist.

Funeral Scams

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After reading obituaries, scammers pose as funeral home employees or charities. Do not share financial information or make payments to these callers.

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