The views expressed in Economy Matters are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System.

Editor's note: Throughout Economy Matters, "Southeast" refers to the six states that, in whole or in part, make up the Sixth Federal Reserve District: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Financial Tips from the Atlanta Fed: Avoiding Scams

August 3, 2020

photo illustration of a pile of colored question mark-shaped blocks

Last year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that consumers lost more than $1.9 billion to scammers—that’s more than $3,600 per minute! Recently, scammers have been taking advantage of the health and financial concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the FTC, over $67 million has already been taken in coronavirus-related scams. How can you protect yourself? Here are a few tips and links to more information on how to keep your money safe.

  • Safeguard personal and financial information, especially if you are being asked to share account numbers or passwords in response to an unsolicited call, text, or email.
  • Verify emails before opening any attachments or clicking on links.
  • Government agencies won’t ask you for personal information or money. Scammers frequently spoof phone numbers to deceive you into responding, so be aware and do not reveal personal information.
  • Be sure to check on a charity before making a donation by either calling it directly or going to its website. And pay by check or credit card so you can reconcile your donation with your financial statements later.
  • If you are being asked to pay through an unusual way such as gift card, prepaid debit card, wire transfer, or courier, or if the organization takes only cash, it may be a scam.
  • If you believe that your financial accounts have been compromised, contact your financial institution immediately and watch for any unexplained charges to your account or signs of identity theft.