10 Signs the Person on the Phone is a Scammer

Elder Rights Center
Area Agency on Aging - Your Aging & Disability Resource Center
August 4, 2020


 10 Signs the Person on the Phone is a Scammer

  1. They contact you first
  • Scammers contact you by phone or email.
  • If someone calls and says you “won a prize,” “owe a bill,” or anything else, HANG UP the phone or DELETE the email.
    • Do not open attachments in the email
  • Scammers can hack Facebook and other social media. They send messages from your friends’ accounts to get you to fall for a scam.
    • Call your friend or talk in person before sending money to anyone!
  • Real creditors, including the IRS, always send a letter before calling.


  1. They ask you to send cash
  • Never send cash through the mail, even to pay a bill you know is real.
    • Without a receipt, there is no way to prove you made the payment.
  • Checks clear within 24 hours, so you never need to send cash to “expedite” a process


  1. They say you have to pay taxes before getting the money
  • Income taxes are due April 15
  • Other taxes are due 90 days after receiving money, never before you get the income
  • Real taxes should not be paid in cash
  • Real grants or winnings send you an IRS form W-9 to report taxes.
  • It is illegal to pay taxes to an individual or company other than the IRS!


  1. They ask you to send money to an individual or to a personal address
  • Real businesses use their own name and

have a business address

  1. They contact you multiple times a day
  • Criminals pressure you to send money quickly so you do not have time to think.


  1. They do not send anything in writing
  • If they won’t put it in writing, they probably belong in jail.
  • Real businesses document all transactions, but criminals try to avoid creating evidence.


  1. They do not need you to sign anything
  • Related imageLegitimate businesses and government agencies document everything they do.
  • If they don’t need your signature, you don’t need to talk to them!


  1. They tell you to buy a cash card or a gift card to pay them
  • Cash cards, iTunes or Walmart gift cards, and other cards make it hard to track the money.
  • The government does not use cash cards or gift cards!
  • Always use a payment method that creates a record of who you paid.


  1. They threaten you with jail or with losing your home
  • You can only go to jail for a crime, not a debt.
  • If you might be arrested, police have to read your rights and let you speak to an attorney.


  1. It seems too good to be true
  • You will never win a lottery you did not enter.
  • The government does not give anti-poverty grants to individuals.
  • Nothing happens without paperwork!


Have questions? Need help? Call our office at 1-866-684-5885 and ask for our Elder Rights Center.

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