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Business Impersonator Scams

Here’s how Business Impersonator Scams work:

You get a call, email, text, or message on social media that looks like it’s from a business you know. It says there’s a problem with your account, or you won a prize. It tells you to call a number or click a link.

But the message isn’t really from a familiar business, it’s from a scammer. If you call, they’ll tell you to send payment or give personal information. They’ll say you must pay with gift cards, cryptocurrency, or by wiring money, which no honest business will do. Or they’ll ask for your Social Security number or access to your computer.

But it was never really that business contacting you, there wasn’t a problem, and there was never a prize.

Here’s what to do in the event of a Business Impersonator Scam:

Stop. If you get an unexpected call, email, text, or message on social media — even if it looks like it’s from a business you know — don’t click any links. And don’t call phone numbers they give you. These are often scams.

Romance Scams:

Here’s how Romance Scams work:

Someone contacts you on social media — and they’re interested in getting to know you. Or maybe you meet someone special on a dating website or mobile app. Soon the person wants to write to you directly or start talking on the phone. They say it’s true love, but they live far away — maybe because of work, or because they’re in the military.

Then they start asking for money. Maybe it’s for a plane ticket to visit you. Or emergency surgery. Or something else urgent.

Scammers of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations make fake profiles, sometimes using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They build relationships — some even pretend to plan weddings — before they disappear with your money.

Here’s what to do in the event of a Romance Scam:

Stop. Don’t send money. Never send anyone cash or pay with gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency to an online love interest. You won’t get it back.

Grandkid Scams:

Here’s how Grandkid Scams work:

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.

Here’s what you can do in the event of a Grandkid Scam:

Stop. Check it out. Look up your grandkid’s phone number yourself or call another family member.

Tech Support Scams:

Here’s how Tech Support Scams work:

You get a call or message from someone who says they’re a computer technician. Or a number appears in a pop-up message on your screen. Or maybe you’re looking for tech support and call a number you find on a search engine. The person on the phone says they’re from a well-known company like Microsoft or Apple. And they tell you about viruses or other malware on your computer. Maybe they’ll ask you for remote access to your computer or say you must buy new software to fix it.

But are they someone you can trust? Judging by reports to the Federal Trade Commission, no. Tech support scammers will try 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 (including your account passwords).

Here’s what to do in the event of a Tech Support Scam:

Hang up. If you get an unexpected call from someone saying there’s a problem with a computer — hang up, it’s a scam. If you need tech help, go to someone you know and trust — and call them at a phone number you know to be true (the ones that show up in your search engine aren’t always legitimate).[1]

IRS Imposter Scams

How IRS Imposter Scams Work:

You get a call from someone who says she’s from the IRS. She says that you owe back taxes. She threatens to sue you, arrest, deport you, or revoke your license if you don’t pay right away. She tells you to put money on a prepaid debit card, gift card or to send money via a cryptocurrency like bitcoin.

The caller may know some of your Social Security number. The caller ID might even show a phone number from Washington DC, but is it really the IRS calling?

No. The real IRS won’t ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency like bitcoin. They also won’t ask for a credit card over the phone. When the real IRS contacts you about unpaid taxes they do it by mail, not by phone.

What to do in the event of an Imposter Scam:

Stop. Don’t wire money, send cryptocurrency or pay with a prepaid debit card. There is no way to recover the money if you send it. IF you have tax questions, go to or call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

Have You Been Scammed?

Scammers are not going to make it easy for you to get your money back, but no matter how you paid, the sooner you act, the better. The Federal Trade Commission makes the following recommendations:

  • If you paid a scammer with a credit or debit card, you may be able to stop the transaction. Contact your credit card company or bank right away. Tell them what happened and ask for a “chargeback” to reverse the charges.
  • If you paid a scammer with a gift card, prepaid card or cash reload card, contact the company that issued the card right away. Tell them you paid a scammer with the card and ask if they can refund your money. The sooner you contact them, the better the chance they’ll be able to get your money back. Learn more about gift card scams.
  • Contact Western Union at 1-800-448-1492 or use the Western Union online fraud claim form. Contact MoneyGram at 1-800-926-9400 or complete MoneyGram’s Report Fraud form online. If the money hasn’t yet gone through to the recipient, you may be able to cancel the transaction and get your money back.
  • If you paid a scammer using a money transfer app, contact the company behind the app. If the app is linked to a credit card or debit card, contact your credit card company or bank first. See more tips for using peer-to-peer payment systems and apps.
  • Report it to the authorities. Reporting fraud can lead to more awareness and better education. Contact your local law enforcement authorities if you believe you were a victim of fraud, and report suspected fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at



[1] Click the following link for a video about identifying Tech Support Scams: