Find our Current Scams and Alerts here. 

We could all use more money, right? Whether it’s to add to your current income or to be able to give up your 9-to-5 job altogether, it’s fun to imagine the possibilities. And it’s this exact perception about finances and income that scammers are banking on. 

Email scams are practically as old as email itself. Once a scammer figured out that people will read and respond to an email promising untold wealth, it opened the floodgates for a daily barrage of emails promising everything from inheritances to shared wealth opportunities to contest awards. But if there’s no money involved, why do scammers bother emailing people?

Oh, there’s money involved all right...yours.

Email scams come in a wide variety of formats and mechanisms, but they essentially all work in one of a handful of ways. The goals include: gaining access to your personally identifiable information by having you fill out the “necessary” forms; gaining access to your money by having you send in a “shipping and handling” fee or to pay the required taxes before receiving your prize; or having you click on a link to see what you’ve won, only to have the link contain malicious software that infects your computer and steals your information.

Here are some sure signs that the email is a scam:

Money for Nothing – NO ONE is going to contact you out of the blue and give you loads of money. It’s nice to dream about, but it’s simply not the reality. They’re also not going to contact you online from a free email address.

Dear Sir or Madam – Think about it…if someone was genuinely going to give you millions of dollars, wouldn’t they know your name?

Youve Alredy One! – Typos and poor grammar are dead giveaways that something isn’t right about this email. If the sender’s job is to inform people all day long that they’re now millionaires, wouldn’t they spell it right?

Hurry, This Offer Is Only Good for the Next Ten Seconds – Sorry, but if you’re the verified winner of a large sum of money or even better the recipient of an inheritance, there’s no ten second deadline. If your long lost great-great-aunt stipulated in her will that you had ten seconds to respond, something funny’s going on.

Just Send Us the Processing Fee – If you ever win anything that requires YOU to pay money, it’s a scam, whether in an email or in real life. Winners don’t pay before receiving their prizes; even multi-million dollar lottery winners pay a portion of the winnings to the IRS after claiming their prizes.

Funny, I Don’t Even Remember Signing Up for this Contest – That’s because you didn’t. Scammers got your name from any number of online sources. They send out these emails to thousands of people a day, hoping to get a bite. Don’t take their bait.

Want to Report a Scam?

To better alert consumers nationwide, the ITRC has partnered with the Better Business Bureau in bringing you the BBB Scam Tracker. On this site, you can report a scam you have fallen victim to or have become aware of as well as search for scams that have been reported by others.

Want to Report Fraud?

You can report fraud to STOPFRAUD.GOV which also provides a listing of resources to help find suspected cases of financial fraud.

Want to Report CyberCrime?

You can report internet crimes and complaints to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at

It is of prime importance to know the scams that thieves use to trick you into giving information. They then use the information to steal your identity. Compare this to a defensive driving course. It is not enough to know how to use a phone or the Internet. You must know how to use this technology safely, including increased awareness of situations that could lead to identity theft. Below you will find Fact Sheets, Solutions and Blogs to learn more about scams and how to protect yourself.

Fact Sheets

Fact Sheet 123: Scam Help

Fact Sheet 142: Protecting Your Computer from WiFi Dangers

Fact Sheet 147: Risks of Mobile Applications 


Solution 13: How do I Protect My Information on the Internet

Solution 19: File Sharing and Peer - 2 - Peer Software Safety

Solution 20: Email Account Take Over

Solution 25: Detecting Scams

Solution 34: IRS/ITRC Top 13 Things Taxpayers Should Know



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