Like spring cleaning for your finances, Financial Literacy Month is a great time to dust off your knowledge for spotting and avoiding scams. The best way to make a clean getaway from a scam? Listen to how they tell you to pay.

If someone tells you:

  • “Pay us by putting money on a gift card and then give us the number on the back.” — That’s a scam.
  • “We’ll send you a check, deposit the check, and then send us the money.”— That’s a scam. (That check will later turn out to be fake and you will be on the hook for the money.)
  • “You have to pay us by sending money through a money transfer company like MoneyGram or Western Union.” — That’s a scam.
  • “Go to a store with a cryptocurrency ATM, put your money in to buy cryptocurrency, and use this QR code to send it to this address.” — That’s a scam.

Scammers have lots of stories about why you need to pay — like pretending they’re calling from the government, a business, utility, tech company, or even a charity. Or they’ll call about a family emergency. Or maybe they call with an alert about a virus on your computer that needs fixing. No matter what they say, they’ll pressure you to act immediately, and of course, pay them money. When they do, hang up and report them to the FTC at

For more information on spotting scams and avoiding them, visit And don’t forgot to share what you learn with others during #FinancialLiteracyMonth.


By Christina Miranda with the FTC

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