Payment Methods Scammers Use

Scammers usually ask victims to pay in ways that are hard to track or reverse. Knowing which payment methods are popular with scammers may help you avoid a scam.

Scammers change payment methods often. Any unexpected request for immediate payment should be viewed as a scam.

Payments scammers use:

Bank account / computer access. Be suspicious of calls from anyone --even someone who claims to work for your bank – who asks you to download a remote-access program on your computer. Banks and other companies have access to all the accounts they hold through their own secure systems. If they make a mistake, they can fix it on their end. They NEVER need to process payments or refunds using customers' computers.

Bitcoin / e-currency. Payments made in bitcoin and other types of e-currency are final. They cannot be reversed. Utilities and government agencies (including police and courts) do not accept bitcoin payments.

Checks with requests to forward part of the money. Be suspicious if anyone sends you a check but asks you to forward part of the funds to someone else. Checks given with these instructions are usually counterfeit. Your bank may allow you to access funds from a deposited check before it knows the check is good. But when the bank discovers the check is fake, it will take back the funds and you'll be liable for any money you spent.

Gift cards. Utilities and government agencies (including police and courts) do not accept store gift cards as payment. Sending photos of gift cards or reading card numbers to someone gives them all the info they need to steal the money from the card.

Loadable prepaid cards / payment apps. While legitimate companies may accept reloadable cards or payments through banking apps, sending money through a payment app is like sending cash — it’s hard to get it back. Verify the person who is requesting funds from you is who they claim to be. Never give your account credentials or passwords to anyone else. If you get an unexpected, urgent request to send money via loadable card (like Green Dot MoneyPaks) or a payment app, contact Scam Squad or local police.

Cash by mail or courier. While governments and businesses accept cash payments, they will never ask you to mail cash to them. If anyone ever tells you to mail cash by tucking it into a magazine or to give a packet containing cash to a courier who comes to your home, you are talking to a scammer.

Report suspicious calls and emails:

Scam Squad at 216-443-SCAM (7226) or using our online form.

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