There are many types of scams, but here are some common ones. It is not a complete list, which can be found at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov.
Credit Repair Scams
These companies will charge people hundreds of dollars with the promises of restored credit and erased debt. However, they do little or nothing to improve a person’s credit. If a person needs to repair their credit or consolidate debt, they can arrange payment plans and improve their credit score themselves for little or no cost through a nonprofit credit counseling agency.
Fake Check Scams
This scam starts out by someone sending a person a check or money order and are asked to deposit it in their account. They have then asked for a wire-transfer for a portion of the money, minus a nice bonus for the sender as a “thank you” for helping out. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office says regardless of the pitch, the result is the same: the check or money order received is counterfeit. It will be returned to the bank unpaid, and the full amount will be deducted from that person’s account. “Never wire-transfer money to a stranger,” according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
This scam is where a person is contacted by an alleged friend or family member, usually by e-mail or social media, asking for money to be sent immediately. This may in fact be an imposter or hacker. Before sending money, contact that friend or family member directly, using a different method of communication. Ask a question only the friend or family member would know how to answer.
Home Improvement Fraud
This occurs when contractors or companies don’t complete the work they were paid to do. They offer false promises and often disappear without doing any work or after doing a poor job. Always obtain at least three estimates, get everything in writing and check references. Contractors who knock on a door are required by law to provide people with a three-day right-to-cancel prior to beginning any work.
Identity theft happens when someone fraudulently uses a person’s personal information, such as a bank account number or Social Security number, to obtain credit, take out a loan, receive medical treatment, get identification, or otherwise pretend to be the person they’re attempting to scam. Never give personal information to any unfamiliar or untrustworthy person, especially when solicited over the phone.
Someone may call or email [pretending to be from a government agency ― like the IRS or the local court. The person will demand immediate payment, likely for back taxes or an old court fee, and threaten arrest if payment is not made immediately. The scammer may also request personal information, such as a Social Security Number. Never give any personal information out over the phone from an unsolicited caller.
Don’t trust the caller ID. Scammers use a technology called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or “spoofing” to disguise the number that appears on a person’s caller ID. The caller ID may show a person’s bank or a local area code, but the call is actually coming from a scammer possibly in another country. Any caller asking for personal or financial information, hang up. A bank nor government agency will never request a Social Security number or account information over the phone.
Some scammers pretend to be a person’s bank or a government agency to “phish” for personal information. They ask for a person to update or confirm an account by submitting their bank account number, password, or Social Security Number. Never respond to unexpected requests for personal information. A bank nor the Internal Revenue Service will never request personal information over the phone or by e-mail.
Sweepstake and Prize Scams
Someone may fictitiously claim a person won the lottery, a contest, or another prize. In order to collect winnings, however, the person will be asked to pay an advance fee, often via wire-transfer or money order. This is a scam. Legitimate sweepstakes are free and require no purchase.