Information & Alerts
Protecting Yourself from Common Scams
Common Internet Scam
If you are selling items on the Internet and if you receive a check for more than your item sold for (usually a significant amount or more), you may be the victim of a scam. These checks look legitimate, but they may be counterfeit. These checks are usually drawn on a major US Bank.
Here’s how the scam works: For example, you sell an item over the internet for $1,000. You receive a check for payment in the amount of $6,000. Soon you will receive an email with an excuse (perhaps shipping costs) for why the amount is so large, and asking you to wire the difference back to a US or foreign bank. If you suspect you are being scammed, please bring the check to your local branch. The bank will investigate the check and let you know how to proceed.
When you send money to people you do not know personally or give personal or financial information to unknown callers, you increase your chances of becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud.
Here are some warning signs of telemarketing fraud—what a caller may tell you. If you hear these or similar lines, simply say “no thank you” and hang up the telephone:
- "You must act now or the offer won't be good."
- "You've won a free' gift, vacation, or prize." But you have to pay for postage and handling or other charges.
- "You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier." You may hear this before you have had a chance to consider the offer carefully.
- "You don't need any written information about their company or their references."
- "You can't afford to miss this high-profit, no-risk offer."
- If you receive a letter from Nigeria asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply in any manner. Send the letter to the U.S. Secret Service, your local FBI office, or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You can also register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant.
- If you know someone who is corresponding in one of these schemes, encourage that person to contact the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service as soon as possible.
If the offer of an "opportunity" appears too good to be true, it probably is. Follow common business practice.
- If you have not heard of a person or company that you intend to do business with, learn more about them. Depending on the amount of money that you plan on spending, you may want to visit the business location, check with the Better Business Bureau, or consult with your bank, an attorney, or the police.
- Be wary of businesses that operate out of post office boxes or mail drops and do not have a street address. Also be suspicious when dealing with persons who do not have a direct telephone line and who are never in when you call, but always return your call later.
- Be careful of any investment opportunity that makes exaggerated earnings claims.
- Exercise due diligence in selecting investments and the people with whom you invest.
- Consult an unbiased third party, such as an unconnected broker or licensed financial advisor before investing.