Common Scams

Today’s scams target victims through different channels, including fake emails, text messages, voice calls, or letters. With each technique, a scammer may:

  • Pressure you to send money (usually with urgency).
  • Threaten you or a family member with law enforcement action.
  • Impersonate your bank, including its Fraud Department.
  • Instruct you to not trust your bank, or to respond to questions asked by your bank in untruthful ways.
  • Tell you to purchase gift cards and provide codes as a form of payment.
  • Ask you to cash a check for a stranger or send money via wire transfer or Zelle®.
  • Ask you to deposit a check that overpays for something you're selling, then send the difference elsewhere.

Not all attempts to steal your money involves hacking into your bank account or obtaining your personal, financial information. Some scams manipulate victims to willingly part with their money for seemingly legitimate reasons. Below are some of the common scams operating today.

Your best defense against these scams is to be aware of them and take the time to research whether a good or service that seems “too good to be true” is legitimate. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Common Scams

Advanced Fee Loan Schemes

In an advanced fee loan scheme, a person or company offers you a “guaranteed” loan from a legitimate lending institution in exchange for a fee paid in advance. The fee could be a flat rate or a percentage of the gross loan amount. The loan never materializes, and the scammer walks away with the fee you paid.

Charity Fraud

Throughout the year, and especially during the holiday season, scammers will send appeals in the mail or by telephone urging you to contribute financially to a good cause. Double check to make sure the request is from a legitimate charitable organization.

Emergency Scams

Emergency scams (sometimes called grandparents scams) prey on your willingness to help friends and family in need. Scammers impersonate their targets’ loved ones, make up an urgent situation, and plead for help and money. Thanks to social media sites, scammers can offer plausible stories and incorporate nicknames and real travel plans into the con to convince their targets.

Foreign Lottery Scam

There’s a brochure in your mail urging you to participate in some foreign country’s lotto via convenient mail order purchase of lottery tickets or of a share in a pool of lottery tickets. Why not take the chance? It’s a scam. It’s also illegal. A federal statute prohibits mailing payments to purchase any ticket, share, or chance in a foreign lottery.

Free Prize Scam

You’re notified by mail or email that you’ve won a free prize – a new car, a vacation, TV, etc. The catch is you have to pay to get your free item, either by ordering merchandise or by paying shipping, handling, or processing fees to collect the prize. The one thing you can count on is that the amount you pay will excelled the true monetary value of the item – if you receive anything at all.

Home Improvement and Home Repair Fraud

With this scam, you receive a brochure in the mail from a company offering to do expensive home repairs for an unusually low price. Some scammers may even show up at your home to do a free inspection. Unfortunately, the scammer never delivers the services you paid for in advance.

Inheritance Scam

If you receive a notification in the mail from an “estate locator” saying that there is an unclaimed inheritance waiting for you, beware. Many of these recipients are lured into mailing in a fee for an estate report, which will supposedly explain where the inheritance is located and how it can be claimed. The promoter may also offer to process your claim for a fee.

Multi-Level Marketing Jobs

Multi-level marketing is a system of selling goods or services in which you sign up other people to work for you, and they, in turn, recruit others to work for them. You earn commissions on your sales and on the sales of your recruits. But beware if a promoter offers to pay you a commission for recruiting new distributors. Most states outlaw this practice, also known as a “pyramid” scheme.

Mystery Shopper Scam

Scammers will send you a letter and a fake check to entice you to become a paid mystery shopper in your area. The letter instructs you to deposit a check into your account and then wire a portion of the money to a contact named in the letter. But if you deposit the check, you’ll get a notice from the bank that it bounced, and you’ll be out the money that you wired to the scammer.

Online Dating Scams

Scammers may use dating sites, social media, and chat rooms to meet potential victims. They create fake profiles to build online relationships, and eventually convince people to send money to cover travel costs so they can meet in person. They may also play on your sympathies and ask for money for medical emergencies or losses from a temporary financial setback.

Receipt of Unsolicited Merchandise

A company sends you a gift in the mail (a pen, key chain, shirt etc.), but you didn’t order it. They will then follow up with a bill or a letter asking for money in exchange for the gift.

Remote Access Scams

Remote access scams are increasingly popular as a way for fraudsters to scam bank customers. Scammers pose as tech support or a representative of a large online retailer to trick the victim into calling them with a fake alert or notification. Upon calling the number, the victim is connected to the bad actor whose ultimate goal is to gain access to the victim’s computer and send money out of the victim’s accounts.

Work at Home Scams

Advertised opportunities to earn money by doing work in your home are most likely scams if you are required to purchase something before you are able to start work. Some scams require you to produce items and then tell you after the fact that you are responsible for selling them. Sometimes the promoters promise to buy back any items you make, as long as your work up to their standards. They will often reject your work as not being up to par, and you are stuck with the product.

Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed

  • Don’t respond: If you’re not 100% certain of the source of the call, email, or text, then hang up the phone, don’t click on the link in the email, and don’t reply to the text message. Validate official phone numbers and call back somebody that you trust.
  • Don’t trust caller ID or answer phone calls from unknown numbers: If you recognize the caller ID but the call seems suspicious, hang up the phone. Phone numbers can be easily spoofed and made appear to be from a legitimate caller.
  • Don’t give out your information: Never provide any personally identifiable information unless you’re absolutely certain the person and reason are legitimate. Never share a two-factor authentication (text or email) code with anyone. Remember, your bank will never ask you to send us personal information such as an account number, Social Security number, or Tax ID over text, email, or online.
  • Research and validate: If the individual or organization seems suspicious, make sure the request being made is legitimate by calling the organization through an official number from their website or consulting with a trusted family member or friend.

If you feel you may have been a victim of a scam, contact us immediately at 888-853-7100.

Zelle® and the Zelle® related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.
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