Before you wire money to a friend in an emergency, make sure you’re not dealing with an impostor. Such scams are on the rise, according to data released Tuesday.
The Federal Trade Commission says “impostor scams” broke into the top 10 with a 6th place ranking among consumer complaint categories for the first time last year. These scams are when strangers pose as loved ones, companies or government agencies to get victims to send them money.
How To Spot an Impostor
The FTC notes that impostors may use phone calls, emails, letters, faxes or text messages to trick victims. To help spot these scams, the agency has laid out some tell-tale warning signs and tips for dealing with them:
They want you to act now. Resist the pressure to act immediately. The key to successful impostor scams is getting you to send money before their true identity is discovered.
They want you to wire money. Remember that wiring money is like sending cash; you can’t get it back once it’s gone. It’s also not a good idea to wire money in exchange for a check, which could be fake.
They want you to pay to collect winnings. Note that legitimate sweepstakes don’t require winners to pay upfront insurance, taxes or shipping to claim a prize.
They claim to be with a government agency. The impostors might use a real employee’s name and call from a phone number with a Washington, D.C. area code. But federal agencies don’t run sweepstakes.
They claim to be someone you care about. Scammers may pretend to be a panicked relative or friend in need of quick cash. To confirm their identity, call a number you know is real and check the story with others in your circle. Also ask the caller questions a stranger wouldn’t be able to answer.
Impostor scams were the subject of about 60,000, or 4 percent, of the 1.3 million complaints made to the FTC last year. Identity theft topped the list for the 11th year in a row, with 19 percent of complaints. Complaints about debt collection came in second with 11 percent and complaints about Internet services followed with 5 percent.
To see a full list of the top 10 complaints, go to: http://tinyurl.com/6acn5xs.
Source: The Associated Press.