5 Signs it's a Scam


Revised from materials from Washington State’s Attorney General’s office

Alert: Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. Read more about Coronavirus-related scams here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing

  1. Random Contact 
    • Scammers text, call or email people out of the blue. Be aware of unsolicited contact from people you do not know personally.
    • Scammers may be offering prizes or opportunities that seem too good to be true. They might also ask you to pay off a debt that you don’t remember.
    • Note that contact from scammers can turn threatening, as they are desperate to obtain your money or personal information.
    • If you are not sure who is calling, just hang up the phone and then call the organization directly to confirm that the request is legitimate.
  1. Emergency Situation
    • “There’s an emergency, and we need your help right NOW!”
    • Scammers often use emergency scenarios in an attempt to pressure people into making rushed decisions, like sending money or sharing information before they have a chance to stop and think.
    • The “Grandparent” scam has been popular in the State of Washington. In this scam, the scammer poses as a grandchild in need of help. These elaborate phone calls are designed to rip off grandparents who take action because they think they are helping their grandchildren, but really they end up sending money to scammers. Be aware of this scam!
    • If you are pressured into acting right away then you may be getting scammed before you have a chance to stop and think.
    • Don’t let threats from unknown callers push you into making hasty decisions.
  1. Unusual Payments
    • Imagine this scenario: you get a call from Josh, who says he works for a business you are familiar with. Josh tells you to wire money or to buy a prepaid debit or gift card and mail it to him. 
    • These unusual payment methods (wire transfer, prepaid debit cards, and prepaid gift cards) are red flags. These are the most common ways that scammers ask for money. Once these forms of payment are sent they are almost impossible to retrieve. 
    • Don’t do it! Hang up and call the organization directly to make sure you are not being scammed.
  1. Personal Information
    • “Hi, this is Jennifer from the IRS and I need to verify your personal information.”
    • Is someone asking for your personal information? This is a red flag. Do not give your personal information to unsolicited callers.
    • Scammers often pretend that they are from your bank, the government or a healthcare provider.
    • When in doubt, ask who they are, hang up, and contact the legitimate business or agency directly and ask if they need your personal information.
  1. Secrecy
    • Scammers often tell you to keep information to yourself. They say that sharing details will cause others to envy you or they will simply not understand.
    • Why do they do this? They know if you tell your friends and family about them then they might be suspicious and help you foil scammers’ plans.
    • Talk to someone you trust to help you see through the scam. Do NOT keep it a secret.