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Phishing schemes

Identify, avoid, and report phishing schemes

Phishing scams are on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission reports that U.S. consumers lost approximately $667 million to imposter fraud in 2019.

Phishing is the practice of tricking people to share personal information by phone, email, or online. The two most common phishing scams are romance and government imposter scams.

Romance scams cost U.S. consumers nearly $220 million in 2019. These scams occur when an imposter poses as a friend or love interest online and builds a relationship with the victim. Once the relationship is established, the scammer requests money for what seems like a sensible reason and has the money sent to them in a way that is untraceable.

There were approximately 390,000 government imposter scams in 2019. This happens when a fraudster acts like an employee from a federal agency. Typically, they pose as an employee of the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, or Medicare. The scammer usually requests urgently that the victim provide their personal information.

Follow these seven tips to avoid phishing scams:

  • Do not send money to anyone you have not met in person, and be cautious about sharing personal or financial information.
  • Do not transfer money to unknown people or intermediaries. Use only a licensed money transmitter if a third party needs to be involved.
  • Do not give out personal information by phone, email, or online. Government agencies and financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, will not ask for this information.
  • Always be careful opening emails, clicking on links, or downloading files, regardless of the sender.
  • Always be suspicious of claims about lottery or sweepstakes winnings that require personal information to receive the reward.
  • Always ignore pop-ups requesting account information or offering to increase computer speed or to clean the computer.

If there is reason to believe a bank or credit account has been compromised, immediately contact the financial institution using the phone number on the back of the card or on a statement.

Keep copies of communications with scammers and report it to these agencies:

Visit the division’s protect yourself and others from fraud pages for more tips and information on preventing, reporting, and recovering from fraud.

​​​​​​​​Questions or complaints?

File a complaint online or contact us:

Consumer Hotline
888-877-4894 (toll-free)


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