People have been getting scammed for years. In this slow economy, that's the last thing they need. Here's a list of recent scams to be beware of, according to the FBI.


People shouldn't respond to unsolicited emails or click on links in unsolicited emails. Also, people should always scan attachments for viruses.

Consumers should refrain from filling out forms in emails that ask for personal information.

Using strong passwords for all financial accounts and changing them regularly will make them harder for criminals to hack into.

Also, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Charitable contributions

Consumers frequently get emails from people who claim to conduct charitable relief efforts.

These scams are much more common after natural disasters.

Timeshare marketing

Timeshare owners get phone calls or emails from people pretending to be sales representatives for timeshare resale companies. The people promise a quick sale, sometimes even immediate sales.

Timeshare owners who agree to sell are told to pay a fee upfront to cover advertising fees and closing costs. Such fees have cost consumers a couple hundred to thousands of dollars.

Once the fee is paid, the sales representatives become unreachable.

Malware installed on travelers’ laptops

While setting up a hotel room internet connection, a pop-up window appears encouraging users to update a commonly used software program.

By accepting and installing the update, damaging software is installed on the laptop.

Lawyers beware

Scammers email lawyers claiming to be overseas, saying they need legal representation to collect a debt in the U.S. A retainer agreement and check are sent to the law firm.

Firms are told to deposit the check, take out retainer fees and wire the rest of the money to banks in China, Korea, Canada or Ireland. After the funds have been wired overseas, the checks are determined to be counterfeit.

Delinquent payday loan collection scam

For years, callers have posed as members of the FBI claiming the victim has delinquent payday loans that must be paid or there will be legal implications.

The callers usually say the victim has received money from online companies such as U.S. Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Net and others.

Online bank fraud

Ransomware, a type of malicious software that restricts access to a computer until a ransom is paid, lures people to a website where the ransomware is downloaded onto the user's computer. Then the computer freezes and the screen says the user has broken a federal law.

The message says the user's IP address was identified as visiting illegal content. To unlock the computer, the user is instructed to pay a $100 fine to the U.S. Department of Justice using prepaid money services.

The malware (malicious software) continues to operate on the computer in an attempt to extort money and participate in online bank fraud.

Usama Bin Laden links

Consumers shouldn't open unsolicited emails or click on links to videos within those emails. Such emails and links often include subject titles about Usama Bin Laden.

People also shouldn't download software or videos from such emails, as they can damage their computers.

Online job postings

Some businesses have had more than $150,00 stolen as a result of online employment opportunity listings.

Cyber criminals embed malware in emails responding to job postings that let the hacker obtain banking information of people who handle the company's finances.

Lottery schemes
Charles Rex Arbogast, AP

For this scam, consumers get letters or emails saying they've won a lottery or sweepstakes, but that in order to obtain the money, they have to pay fees and taxes first.

Consumers receive a check for the amount of the taxes and fees and are instructed to deposit the check into their account, which credits the account before the check clears.

The consumer immediately withdraws the money and wires it to the scammers. Afterwards, the bank discovers the check is counterfeit and takes the money out of the consumer's account.

Phishing scams

In these scams, criminals act as a legitimate entity and use email and scam websites to get consumers' personal information; account numbers, user names, passwords and more.

Smishing schemes

Fraudsters try to gain consumers' personal information through texting, saying that something is wrong with their credit card accounts.

Consumers may also get calls offering lower interest rates on credit cards they don't even have.

Spoofed websites

A spoofed website is a fake site that gets consumers to give out private information which is then routed to the fraudster's computer.

Work-from-home scams

This scheme usually starts with recruiting victims through newspaper adds, online employment services, unsolicited emails and ads on social networking sites.

Once "hired" the victim becomes a mule for criminals. Victims' personal accounts are then used to steal or launder money.

Business accounts

Financial accounts of business owners and employees of small and mid-sized businesses are targeted.

Such businesses can lose a lot of money as the result of fraudulent transfers with their accounts. Frequently, these monetary losses can never be recovered.

Claims of being stranded can cost thousands

Hackers use people's email and social media accounts to send messages to their contacts saying they need money immediately because their passport, money or credit cards have been stolen; leaving them stranded in some distant place.

They try to instill a sense of urgency in people, saying they only have a few days to pay their hotel bill and frequently promise to reimburse the sender.

Rental scams
J. Pat Carter, AP

Scammers will respond to rental ads, agree on a price and send a counterfeit check for the wrong amount. The fraudster then asks for the rest of the money back or the check is written for the correct amount but the fraudster asks for a refund.

Later, the counterfeit check is discovered and the victim is left to pay for the bank's losses.

Real estate duplicates
Alan Diaz, AP

Real estate scammers copy online ads for housing, alter and repost them. When interested customers email, the "owners" say they're out of the country doing missionary work and need rent out to the house.

The renter is told to send the money to the "owners."

Secret shopper schemes
Mark Lennihan, AP

For this scheme, consumers are contacted via email and told they can apply to be a mystery shopper. To apply, applicants are told to send a resume and that in order to be considered, a background check will need to be conducted.

Applicants are sent a check and told to shop at a specific store and spend a specific amount of money, while taking note of the store's environment, payment procedures and more.

Then, the applicant is supposed to wire money from the store to the criminal. The remaining funds on the check are payment for the work provided. The bank will later discover and inform the applicant the check was counterfeit.

Secret shopper tips
Richard Drew, AP

There are some legitimate mystery/secret shopper programs out there. But legitimate mystery/secret shopper programs don't have application fees and they accept applications online.

No legitimate mystery/secret shopper company will send payment before the task has been completed and ask for a portion of it back.