Common Scam Types will prepare you and heighten your awareness of these types of scams.

common scams

Payment Scams

Exercise caution if you encounter situations where you’re pressured to make a purchase in exchange for compensation, or if someone offers to handle a payment on your behalf or provides bank account details for payment purposes. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Using unfamiliar payment methods puts you at risk of being held responsible for the payment amount. 60-Minutes video on how these scams work (13 minutes).

Employment Scams

When it comes to employment opportunities, especially those found exclusively online or involving remote work, be diligent in validating their legitimacy. Be wary if someone claims to have overpaid you for a job, promises reimbursement for equipment, or asks you to send equipment to an IT department. The equipment may never be returned, and reimbursements or overpayments could be fraudulent, leaving you accountable for the funds. Never disclose personal information to unreliable sources online or through deceptive job offers.

Tech Support Scams

If a tech support representative claims your computer is infected with malware and requests payment to fix the issues or gain access to your computer, be cautious. Verify the legitimacy of such claims before making any payments or granting remote access to your device.

Impersonation Scams

Scammers may pose as reputable companies like Capital One and attempt to extract personal information or initiate money transfers through phone calls, text messages, or emails. They might even use a fake caller ID that appears as Capital One, or request remote access to your device. Stay vigilant and never provide personal information or transfer funds to suspicious entities.

Utility Scams

Criminals may impersonate your utility company and send you text messages or emails with warnings to pay outstanding balances within a limited time frame, threatening to shut off your utilities if you fail to comply. Exercise caution and verify the authenticity of such communications before making any payments.

Fake Goods

If you come across an incredibly enticing deal, such as a $300 pair of sneakers for just $49, be cautious. Never transfer money to unknown individuals or entities, as it may indicate a scam.

Fake Rental Listings

Scammers might create fake rental listings for legitimate properties listed for sale online. They set up fraudulent websites and pose as landlords or owners, tricking unsuspecting individuals into sending their first month’s deposit to the scammer. Be sure to verify the authenticity of rental listings and conduct thorough research before making any payments.

Fake Websites

Scammers create deceptive websites that closely resemble legitimate ones, often including realistic phone numbers. When you call these numbers, they will try to obtain your login credentials or other sensitive information. To stay safe, always double-check the legitimacy of websites and contact information before providing any personal details.

Overpayment Scams

If you receive an overpayment for an item you’re selling, followed by a request to deposit the check (which turns out to be fraudulent), and then send the excess funds via wire transfer or gift card, be cautious. These are common overpayment scams that can leave you financially responsible when the check doesn’t clear.

Check Cashing Requests

If someone approaches you outside a bank and asks you to cash a check for them, claiming they don’t have an account or forgot their identification, be careful. The bad check will ultimately be charged against your account when it fails to clear, leaving you liable for the amount.

Romance Scams

When engaging in online relationships, be wary if your new partner asks for financial support. These requests are often part of an elaborate scheme to defraud you.

Charity Request Scams

If you receive a donation request from an unfamiliar charity with no official website or information available, be cautious. Take the time to research the organization thoroughly before making any contributions.

Debt Relief Scams

If you receive a request for payment in exchange for services claiming to help you pay, settle, or eliminate your debts, exercise caution. Verify the legitimacy of such requests and services before providing any payment.


Scammers may impersonate IRS officials and contact you via phone calls, emails, or text messages, claiming that you owe back taxes or that there is an issue with your tax return. They may even manipulate caller ID to appear as official calls from the IRS. Beware of these tactics and always verify the authenticity of any communication before taking any action or providing personal information.

Investment Scams

If you receive a request to invest in a business opportunity with promises of high returns or quick wealth, exercise caution. Research the opportunity thoroughly and consult with financial professionals before making any investments.

Lottery Scams

If you receive a request to prepay fees or taxes in order to claim a large prize you supposedly won, be cautious. Legitimate lotteries do not require winners to pay upfront fees or taxes to receive their prizes.

Grandparent Scams

If you receive a call or text message from someone claiming to be your grandchild or a loved one, requesting money for an emergency and providing instructions on where to send the funds, be cautious. Take the time to verify the caller’s identity and the legitimacy of the situation before making any payments.

Puppy Scams

Scammers may post fake advertisements for litters of puppies online or impersonate existing breeders to exploit unsuspecting individuals looking to buy a puppy. Exercise caution and thoroughly research the seller’s credibility before making any payments.

Online/Social Media Shopping

If you come across an incredible deal online, consider whether it seems too good to be true. Conduct independent research on the seller and products, and compare prices with other reputable websites to ensure you are on a legitimate shopping platform.

Mortgage Closing Scams

If you receive an email or text message that resembles your real estate agent’s contact information, stating a last-minute change to the wiring instructions for closing costs and instructing you to wire the funds to a different account, exercise caution. Always verify such changes directly with your real estate agent or trusted parties involved to prevent falling victim to fraudulent schemes.

Business Email Compromise Scams (aka BEC)

If you receive an email from a supplier or vendor requesting money to be sent to a different account, even if the email appears familiar, be cautious. It could be a fraudster who gained unauthorized access to your supplier’s or vendor’s network. Verify any payment instructions through secure channels or by directly contacting your supplier/vendor to ensure the legitimacy of the request.

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