May 16, 2017
by Christina Tusan – Attorney, Western Region, FTC
Think you got an email from a business you know? Scammers sometimes use emails that look legit to trick you into sending money to them.
The email might say it’s from a real estate professional you’re working with, telling you there’s a last-minute change and you should now wire your closing costs to a different account. Or it could seem to be an email – with an invoice – from your utility company, telling you to wire payment. Whatever the story, if you wire that money, it goes to the scammer – and you may never see your money again.
These scammers might get your information by hacking into a business. Once they know about you, they send an email that seems to come from the business, telling you where to send money. So, how can you spot these scams?
- Never wire money to anyone who emails – or calls – and asks you to. Instead, check it out.
- Contact the company through a number or email address you know is real. Don’t use phone numbers or links in the email.
- Don’t open email attachments, even from someone you know, unless you’re expecting it. Opening attachments can put malware on your computer.
If you’ve already sent in money to a scammer, act quickly.
- If you wired money through your bank, ask them right away for a wire recall. If you used a money transfer company, like Western Union or MoneyGram, call their complaint lines immediately.
- Report your experience to the FTC and to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov. Give as much information as you can, including all requested banking information. The sooner you get this report in to ic3, the more likely they can help you.
- If your bank asks for a police report, give them a copy of your report to ic3.gov.