The first step to preventing fraud is being aware of what common scams and their associated behaviors look like. Almost all wire fraud starts with contact from a stranger. If a consumer believes they've been the victim of fraud via a MoneyGram wire transfer, they may call 800-926-9400. The following are some of the most common consumer scams:
Scammers will call consumers pretending to be the IRS, often from a Washington, D.C. area code, and claim they owe back debts. They may ask consumers to wire the money or send a prepaid debit card to settle the amount owed, but no legitimate government employee will ever call and ask for money upfront.
In this common scheme, scammers will call pretending to be the FTC, promising consumers a refund if they provide their bank account numbers and other sensitive information. The FTC doesn't make outgoing phone calls to contact people, and they don't ask consumers to provide banking or sensitive information or to send money.
In times of disaster, scammers will often take advantage of consumers' charitable giving. Let consumers know that the best way to provide support to help people impacted by floods, earthquakes, fires, other natural disasters, or even man-made disasters is through trusted organizations and businesses.
In this scam, consumers will be contacted about winning a lottery, but must pay a fee to claim their winnings. The lottery is often in a foreign country. The bottom line is that legitimate lotteries or sweepstakes never require people to pay money upfront.
Fraudsters will often post an appealing or hard-to-find item online or in a newspaper at a price that's too good to be true. They'll ask consumers to pay for the item through a MoneyGram transfer, even going so far as to send a letter or email of authentication telling consumers that they have purchased the item but need to wire funds first.
Scammers will often pose as a family member, or as a lawyer or police offer with a family member, claiming they are hurt or in some sort of trouble and need money to fix the problem. It's important for consumers to verify with their actual family member that they really need money using a known contact method before proceeding.
In this simple scam, fraudsters will send letters or emails asking for loan fees, taxes, service fees, advance payments, or a myriad of other charges, often through a wire transfer.
This scam comes via mail and sends consumers a counterfeit check or money order in the mail with instructions for them to first cash it at their bank and then to send some of the funds to someone else through a money transfer. Fake checks and money orders are difficult to identify, and the consumer will have to cover the loss.
Scammers will connect with consumers through a personal ad, e-mail, chat room, or instant message to start a romantic relationship. Once the relationship has begun, however quickly, they will ask the consumer to send them money for travel to meet up or to help them financially.
Scammers will take advantage of the elderly through telemarketing fraud, identity theft, predatory lending, home improvement, estate planning scams, and more. They will often offer to manage their finances and begin forging signatures on documents to dupe the consumer into parting with their money, property, and more.