Payment scams usually involve a bill claiming you owe money, but this one works because you supposedly received some.

Who Is It Targeting: Email users

What Is It: Online payment method scam used to inform you that you’ve received a payment

What Are They After: There are a number of well-known mobile payment websites, like PayPal, Stripe, and Square, just to name a few. In this scam, you get an email that looks like it came from a reputable company, telling you that you’ve received a payment. It even includes a transaction number, a realistic but still valuable dollar amount, and links to click to access your account.

The only problem is, you’re not an online vendor. You didn’t receive money because—in the case of someone from the ITRC who received such an email—you don’t even have an account with that company. The ITRC staffer went directly to the company and tried to log in using her email address, but it was not registered in their system; how did they email her with news that she’d received money if her email address isn’t in their system? They didn’t, the scammers did.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • Scammers have upped their phone and email game, so never click a link, open an attachment, or give a caller your personal identifiable information.
  • If you ever receive a suspicious phone call or email from a company that claims you owe money, have received money, or have some other business with them, hang up or delete it. Then contact the company directly to verify the situation.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. Find more current scams and alerts here.