Scammers come up with all sorts of stories to convince you to send money or share your information. They might call or send you a text or email, pretending they’re tech support from Microsoft or Apple. They’ll tell you to put money on a gift card or spend cryptocurrency to protect yourself from a security breach. Don’t. It’s a scam.

Scammers also pretend to be government agencies like the IRS or Social Security Administration. They’ll claim something bad will happen if you don’t pay or give them your personal information. Or they might say you’ll miss out on some government benefit. Either way, it’s a scam.

Here’s how to spot the fakers:

how to spot the fakers
ContextKnow nobody legitimate will ever contact you out of the blue, demanding money or information. Hang up. It’s a scam.
Caller IDDon’t trust caller ID. Scammers know how to fake caller ID so it looks like a real phone number. Even if it has a real name, don’t trust it.
Form of paymentNever pay anyone who demands payment by wire transfer, gift card or cryptocurrency. Only scammers tell you to pay that way. Hang up if it’s a call. If it’s an email, text, or message on social media, don’t click any links.

You might spot these frauds – but someone you know might need extra backup. Please report scams to the FTC at