Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
Jason S. Miyares
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Richmond, Virginia 23219
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Attorney General Miyares Issues Further Warnings For Consumers and Tips to Avoid Scams
~ AG Miyares Identifies Common Consumer Protection Issues and Offers Tips on How Virginians Can Protect Themselves ~
RICHMOND, VA — As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares is issuing further information and guidance for Virginians to prevent themselves from becoming the victim of fraud.
The best way to protect yourself from fraud is being proactive and knowing the signs that an entity might be a scammer - here are some warning signs for better detecting them:
- The Offer Seems Too Good to be True — If it seems too good to be true, like randomly winning a large sum of money, it almost certainly is.
- Requests for Fees or Payment in Advance — Scammers often ask for payments before you can receive funds or "winnings.” Never pay fees or taxes in advance.
- Pressure — A genuine business or government entity will not threaten or pressure you to act immediately, especially if you've never heard from them before.
- Know who you are dealing with — If you cannot find information about the person or business online (reviews, phone number, or verified address) it probably is a scam.
- They Want Private Information — You should never hand out your bank information, social security number, or other personal information.
- Untraceable Payment Method — Never wire money to someone you do not know.
- Grammatical Errors or Poor Production Values — You should be suspicious if the correspondence you receive is full of errors, low-resolution images, or poor formatting.
- Suspicious Email Domains and Web Addresses — Businesses rarely use free email services like Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, or Gmail. Even if the business seems legitimate, do some research to make sure they have readily available contact information and verify the information.
- Suspicious or No Addresses — If there is no physical address and your contacts won't give you one, then it is scam.
- Request for Access to Your Computer — You should never give anyone remote access to your computer unless you have contacted them and are 100% certain they are not a scammer.
Scammers want to take advantage of hardworking people. Along with recognizing the common signs of scams, it is important to adopt lifestyle practices that help to reduce your risk of falling victim to a scam. Every Virginian could fall for a scam, but elderly Virginians are often targeted as scammers believe they are the most vulnerable.
Below are some simple steps you can take in your personal life to better protect yourself and your family, especially elderly relatives, who are the most common target of scammers. Share the following list with important older people in your life:
- Never wire money or send cash or a pre-paid card — Once your money is gone, you can't trace it or get it back.
- Don't give out any personal information
- Don't trust unfamiliar names or numbers - Scammers are good at using technology to make fake caller IDs, phone numbers, emails, etc.
- Join the National Do Not Call Registry and don't answer numbers you don't know.
- Stay socially active. Being alone increases your risk of becoming a victim of ﬁnancial exploitation - Stay in touch with your community and stay in the loop about what is going on.
- Plan. Document your ﬁnancial arrangements. Planning for your future gives you control over your assets and resources. Put your wishes concerning ﬁnancial arrangements in writing. It reduces the chance of a misunderstanding.
- Don't give away property to anyone in exchange for lifelong care. Before you enter into an agreement with a person to provide you lifelong care, discuss the arrangement with an attorney, a ﬁnancial advisor, or other professional you trust. Spell out what compensation, if any, will be paid to the caregiver.
- Never sign anything you do not understand. If you are asked to sign a document, have someone you trust review it with you.
- Be careful when you give someone power of attorney. Before you assign a power of attorney, be sure you understand the agreement and the authority you are giving to your power of attorney.
- Keep track of your ﬁnancial documents and personal items. Monitor your savings, checking or retirement account balances. Contact your ﬁnancial institution if you see accounting irregularities. Keep an inventory of your jewelry and other personal items. A person may try to take these items without your permission.
Below are some common scams targeted at older Virginians:
- Telemarketing Fraud – Fake deals, prizes, etc., offered via phone.
- Romance Scams – When someone pretends to be in a relationship with someone to steal their money.
- Grandparent Scams – When callers pretend to be someone's grandchild in danger and ask for money.
Consumer protection scams are very real and very dangerous.
If you believe you or someone you know is being financially exploited, please call your local department of social services or you can call the 24-hour Adult Protective Services hotline at (888) 832-3858. Learn more about financial exploitation at the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services website.
Virginians who have a question, concern, or complaint about a consumer matter should contact Attorney General Miyares' Consumer Protection Section:
- By phone: (800) 552-9963
- By email:
- Online Complaint Form
- Online Contact Form