Contributed By: Jon Freeman

This month the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that the top fraud reported to them last year was Imposter Scams. The FTC disclosed that “Nearly 1 in 5 people who reported an imposter scam lost money – a whopping $328 million lost to someone pretending to be someone they are not. Imposter scams come in many varieties, but work the same way: a scammer pretends to be someone you trust to convince you to send them money.” They could pretend to be a loved one in trouble, a government official, or some other person who is not who they say they are, but who wants your money.

For example, the imposter who calls you claims to be a family member who is in trouble and in need of money. The person calling may have a detailed sob story to tell you about something horrible that happened to them. They need you to wire or send them money right away. The fraudster calling you may even know your name or other details about you. If you send them money – then it is gone, and you have almost no chance of getting it back. How common is this type of scam attempt? This exact thing happened to a relative of mine 2 times last month. He got multiple phone calls from people claiming to be family members in need of help and asking him for money. Each caller had a detailed story of something terrible that had happened to them. However, he figured out it was a scam each time and hung up on them. If you get a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be a family member in need of urgent financial help, and they want you to immediately send or wire them money, stop and think. The person calling may be an imposter, and it could be a scam.

To access more information about personal finance and managing your money take a look at the Gwinnett Library’s Personal Finance GCPL Guide.