6 Signs You’re Being Scammed

The FTC warns about four common signs that indicate you’re being scammed. We’ve summarized those signs below… plus a few more. How many of these signs did you know?


1) Scammers pretend to be SOMEONE YOU KNOW

Scammers frequently impersonate a person, company, or government agency you’re already familiar with to build your trust. They might use a real organization’s name, contact you through a friend’s social media account, or send an email that looks very professional. Some even use technology to make a phone number look like one you know, tricking caller ID into supporting their claims.

2) There’s a PROBLEM or a PRIZE

Scammers use your emotions to short-circuit suspicion. They might threaten you with a PROBLEM—you’re in trouble with the IRS, you owe money on your auto loan, your credit card has been locked. They might claim your relative is in trouble, or make it look like your computer has a virus. After scaring you, they present a solution—you just need to verify some information, or make an emergency payment.

Other scams play on your excitement by claiming you won a PRIZE. You won the lottery, or a company sweepstakes, or a new customer offer. All you need to do to claim your prize is provide some information, lay down a deposit, or pay a small fee.

3) There’s a sense of URGENCY

Scammers know that if you take a minute to think or check with someone, you’ll probably recognize their tricks. So, they don’t give you any time.

They might threaten to sue you, arrest you, deport you, or charge you massive fees unless you do something before the time limit runs out. Some promise prizes and rewards, but only if you respond within a short time frame. If they call you, the scammer will try to get everything “resolved” over the phone—keeping you on the line and keeping you from checking their story.

4) They ask for certain types of PAYMENT

Any unexpected call, email, or other message where you are asked for payment is suspicious. But, there are a few types of payment that scammers love because they are very difficult to trace.

If you are ever asked to make a payment with a gift card, it’s a scam. Period.

Money transfer apps, wire transfers, and cash are also common forms of payment.

Some scammers will send you a check—it’s fake, but you don’t know that. They’ll ask you to deposit the check, maybe keep some for yourself, and wire them money for the rest. When the check bounces, you’ve lost all the money you sent.

5) They want you to CLICK A LINK or open an attachment

In an unexpected message, these are HUGE warning signs. All it takes is one click to infect your device with malware. Some messages want you to call a phone number, which connects you to scammers who will collect your personal info or ask for payment.

6) They want you to verify some INFORMATION

Scammers will try to trick you into giving up your private information so that they can steal your money or your identity. If anyone asks you for your address, your social security number, your PIN or card number, or other personal data, it’s a huge red flag. Before giving out this information, always verify the legitimacy, the necessity, and the security of whoever you are giving it to.


If you’ve given bank account information, passwords, or paid funds as a result of a scam, contact your financial institution immediately. Sierra Pacific members should contact their branch, and report fraudulent transactions.