happy older couple outdoorsScammers use lots of different tactics – stories about grandchildren in distress, million-dollar prizes, a romantic future, or a business deal – to try to steal peoples’ money. Scammers may demand payment by wire transfers, gift cards, and cryptocurrency – methods that transfer funds quickly and anonymously.

During Older Americans Month, it’s important to help older adults, as well as their families and friends, know what to do and where to report fraud if someone demands payment by these methods.

Don’t wire money

Wiring money is like sending cash. Once you send it, you usually can’t get it back. Don’t wire money even if someone sends you a check, tells you to deposit it, and wire some of the money back to them. That’s a fake check scam, and the bank will want you to repay the money you withdrew and sent. That may also be a money mule scam, involving you in moving stolen money.

Don’t pay with a gift card

Gift cards are for gifts. As soon as you tell someone the numbers on the back of the gift card, they get control of the card, and your money is gone forever. No legitimate business or government agency will insist you pay with a gift card.

Don’t pay with cryptocurrency

If someone requires you to pay for something with Bitcoin, Ether, or some other type of cryptocurrency, they’re probably a scammer. Cryptocurrency payments don’t come with legal protections. If you pay with cryptocurrency, you usually can’t get your money back unless the person you paid sends it back.

Report fraud to the FTC

Honest businesses won’t say you’ll be arrested, deported, or lose your license unless you pay. Neither will the government. If someone does, you know it’s a scammer.

Learn more about recognizing and avoiding scams that affect older adults from Money Smart for Older Adults and Pass it On.