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Recognize a Scam

Stay Informed, Stay Safe & Know Your Rights Video

Stay Informed, Stay Safe & Know Your Rights

Recognizing a Scam

Are you able to spot the signs of a scam when you see them? 

Scammers are creative, coming up with new and more effective ways to trick you into handing over money or personal information.  Arming yourself with knowledge about their current tactics is the best way to make sure you don’t get scammed.

Most scams have common characteristics. By equipping yourself with the tools to recognize a scam, you can be alert to their key features and avoid becoming a victim.

Learn the Signs of a Scam

Report Scams to Consumer Protection

Signs it's a Scam

You are:

  • Contacted out of the blue with an urgent request. 
  • Pressured to act or respond immediately. Offered something that sounds suspicious.
  • Urged to keep the call secret.
  • Asked to provide personal or financial information.
  • Requested or demanded to.
  • Asked for money.
  • Asked for payment in an unusual form.
  • Told to go to your financial institution to withdraw money and instructed to put your phone in your pocket while they remain on the line. They may also instruct you on what to say to the staff at your financial institution.
  • Told you have won or inherited a large sum of money, then instructed to pay an up-front fee to collect on the windfall. They claim the fee is to cover the cost of processing or shipping or to pay taxes on the winnings.
  • Given vague information regarding the purpose of the call and/or caller is reluctant to answer questions about the business or their offer. Threatened if you don’t comply.
  • Promised something too good to be true.
Person holding their index finger up in warning, with a warning icon in the middle of the screen

Types of scams

Alert Email inbox and spam virus with warning caution for notification

Email or Text Scam

  • Unexpected emails or texts from someone you don’t know.
  • Attached receipts for items you didn’t purchase.
  • Updates on deliveries for things you did not order.
  • Suspicious sender email address – attempting to look like an official email domain or company name.
  • Links that don’t go to official websites or to unsecured websites.
  • Spelling or grammatical errors that a legitimate organization would not miss.
  • Suspicious attachments or links.
Caution screen concept

Scam Calls

  • Tech support claiming they detected a virus on your computer or other digital devices.
  • A government employee or agency (IRS, SSA, Medicaid, Immigration Office). Government agencies will not contact you by phone and they will NOT ask for personal or financial information. They will not make threats and will not demand money. 
  • A utility company claiming you did not make a payment or threatening to shut off service for any reason.
  • A grandchild or family member who needs money immediately for an emergency.
  • A debt collector who makes threats and demands immediate payment without anything in writing. 

Their goal is to gain your trust, appeal to your emotions, create a sense of urgency, force their own verification procedures on you, and request money in an unusual payment form. 

What you can do

  • Block unwanted calls and text messages. Do NOT provide personal or financial information in response to a request that you did not expect. Legitimate organizations won’t call, email or text to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers.
  • If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy. Or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number given to you by the caller or the number from your caller ID.
  • Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to decide. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer.
  • Recognize how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or by using a money transfer service. And never deposit a check and send money back to someone.
  • Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything else, tell someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor — what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam. It can also make others aware of the scam - helping them to avoid it.

Recognizing the common traits of a scam will help you avoid falling for one. Reporting scams to our office helps us alert Michigan consumers on the newest and latest scams.

Report Scams