Scammers use sophisticated tactics to defraud members of our community, including the most vulnerable among us. But quite frankly, anyone can become a victim of scam. Our Consumer Protection Unit has provided tips and advice for consumers on how to reduce the risk of being scammed. We strongly encourage consumers to visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website and/or the Better Business Bureau of Delaware’s website to learn about different scams and how to report them.
Identity thieves use a victim’s personal information (e.g., Social Security number, bank account information, and credit card numbers) to pose as that individual for their own gain. Using the target’s identity, the thief may open a credit account, drain an existing account, file tax returns, or obtain medical coverage.
Here are some tips:
Never give out your social security number, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or any other personal or financial information to anyone you don’t know. And guard all your receipts–especially if they reflect your financial account numbers.
Avoid dealing with businesses you don’t know, especially when their offers come to you by e-mail or through telephone calls from people you don’t know. No matter how good the deal may sound, walk away. Identity thieves often pitch great deals to make sure they can lure their victims in quickly.
Evidence of identity theft often shows up before the victim even realizes what has happened. Criminals often attempt to get credit under other people’s names or social security numbers, and these attempts will show up on credit bureau reports.
Get up to 6 free credit reports each year until 2026 by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com, by phone at 877-322-8228, or mail your request to Annual Credit report Request Service, P.O. Box 10521, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
If you feel uncomfortable about doing business with someone or feel pressured to give up your confidential information, walk away. It is much better to take the time to think through an offer and to do more research than it is to hand over your confidential personal or financial information to a criminal. Legitimate businesses want your repeat business, and will gladly give you time to do your homework first.
If you are a victim of Identity Theft, the Attorney General recommends that you immediately take the following steps:
Step 1: Contact the police.
The first step you need to take is to report the fraud to your local police department. This step is important for two reasons: First, it immediately alerts local law enforcement to the crime. Second, it establishes that you acted diligently, and enables you to get a police report, complaint number or other similar record, which you may need when contacting some of your creditors. If you are not sure which law enforcement agency to contact, please call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (800) 220-5424. The Consumer Protection Unit can help you get in touch with the proper police agency and can answer any other Identity Theft questions you may have.
Step 2: Promptly report the fraud to the three major credit bureaus.
Because identity thieves often attempt to obtain credit under your identity, it is important to promptly contact the three major credit bureaus to report the fraud. Ask each credit bureau to take a report, and to place a “fraud alert” on your credit report.
Also, ask each credit bureau to send you a copy of your credit report, so you can determine the extent of any unlawful credit activity that may have taken place using your identity. If you already have a police report, file number, or complaint number from your local law enforcement agency, you should give that information to the three major credit bureaus as well, to help them investigate any disputed accounts or other reports of fraud.
Step 3: Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report to prevent unauthorized release.
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Security Freeze
P.O. Box 2000
Chester PA 19106
Step 4: Contact the Fraud Department of each of your creditors and banks.
Locate all your credit cards, your banks and other creditor information (such as utilities, cable, etc.) and contact their “fraud” departments. Report the fraud to each creditor, even if your account with that creditor has not been directly affected by the identity theft, to ensure each creditor is aware of the potential of a crime taking place. Ask each creditor to place a “fraud alert” on your account. If there are charges on your accounts that are illegal, most creditors will also ask you to submit a written report of the fraud, along with a police report, or a police complaint number or file number. If you need help with any of these steps, you may contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (800) 220-5424 to request the Attorney General’s Identify Theft Victim Kit. This kit contains everything you need to promptly report identity theft, and also includes an Identity Theft Affidavit which you may use to submit your theft reports to your creditors.
Step 5: Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission.
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) maintains a confidential, national Identity Theft database, and may also be able to assist in pursuing identity thieves through federal channels. The FTC may be reached at (877) IDTHEFT (877-438-4338)
These cons often involve purchases and sales, often on eBay, Craigslist, or other direct seller-to buyer sites. Scammers may pretend to purchase an item only to send a bogus check and ask for a refund of the “accidental” overpayment. In other cases, if the scammer is the seller, they never deliver the goods.
Here are some tips:
If you begin a transaction and need to give your financial information through an organization’s website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a URL that begins https (the “s” stands for secure).
It should let you know what personal information the website operators are collecting, why, and how they’re going to use the information.
If a buyer or seller tries to persuade you to go outside the site’s usual process or payment methods, that’s a big red flag 🚩.
Imposter scams come in many varieties but work the same way: a scammer pretends to be someone you trust to convince you to send them money. Scammers can pretend to be anyone, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Tech Support, the Social Security Administration, or even a family member.
Here are some tips:
These complaints can include selling cars that have undisclosed problems or selling extended warranties but refusing to cover expenses. Additionally, car dealerships may put tempting deals in their advertisements, but when you try to close the deal, the deal is not what it looks like.
Here are some tips:
➡️ Visit the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) website at vehiclehistory.gov to get a vehicle history report with the title, insurance loss, and salvage information.
to ensure it doesn’t have hidden damage.
You can check yourself by entering the VIN at safercar.gov, or by calling the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236.
Be alert to telemarketers pitching auto warranties using high-pressure tactics to hide their true motives. Most legitimate businesses will give you time and written information about an offer before asking you to commit to a purchase.
If your phone number is on the National Do Not Call Registry, you shouldn’t get live or recorded sales pitches unless you have specifically agreed to accept such calls.
Report violations or register a phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry at DoNotCall.gov or call 1-888-383-1222.
Most sweepstakes scams have a few things in common. They claim that the recipient has won, or is about to win, a large cash prize. And they try to get the recipient to pay money, often supposedly to claim the bogus prize.
Here are some tips:
➡️ You have to pay.
➡️ You have to wire money.
➡️ You have to deposit a check they have sent to you.
➡️ You are told they are from the government.
➡️ Your “notice” was mailed by bulk rate.
➡️ You get a call out of the blue.
➡️ You did not enter a lottery, but you receive a notice or call from a person claiming to work for the Delaware Lottery.
➡️ You receive a notice or call informing you that you have won a lottery in another country.
➡️ You receive a notice or call informing you that you have won a sweepstake, but you need to pay a fee in order to claim your winnings.
➡️ You receive a notice or call from a person claiming to work with the federal government or a “Federal Sweepstakes Board.”
These scams use Internet services or software with Internet access to defraud victims or to otherwise take advantage of them. Internet crime schemes steal millions of dollars each year from victims and continue to plague the Internet through various methods.
For more information on how to spot these scams, visit https://www.bbb.org/all/spot-a-scam.
These scams target consumers regarding mobile plans, rates or coverage areas, problems with mobile applications or downloads, unauthorized switching of consumers’ phone service provider, misleading pre-paid phone card offers, VoIP service problems, electronic consumer products such as smart watches, and connected-home devices that can connect to the internet and use a processor or sensors to collect consumer information.
More information on how to spot and report a tech scam can be found at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-spot-avoid-and-report-tech-support-scams.
These are very common scams that target small businesses and non-profit organizations, Scammers’ tactics include promises of a job, guaranteed money, and often says you can work from home.
More information, including steps people can take to protect themselves or their company from scams, can be found at https://www.consumer.gov/content/job-and-business-opportunity-scams.gov.
Listings are posted for properties that are not for rent, do not exist, or are significantly different from what’s pictured. In another variation, scammers claim to specialize in timeshare resales and promise they have buyers ready to purchase.
Here are some tips:
A legitimate company won’t ask you to pay for a prize. Any company trying to sell you a “free” vacation will probably want something from you. Be cautious.
Be careful about scammers contacting you claiming to be a real estate broker or agent stating to specialize in timeshare resales and promising they have buyers ready to purchase. They pressure owners into paying an upfront fee and once they do, the reselling agent never delivers.
Watch out for scammers who post listings for properties that either aren’t for rent, don’t exist, or are significantly different than pictured. These con artists then lure in vacationers with the promise of low fees and great amenities.
Hotels listing the “resort fee” near the quoted price or in the fine print – or referring to other fees that “may apply” – isn’t good enough. If you find out a hotel hasn’t told you the whole story about mandatory fees, in addition to complaing to the company, file a complaint with the FTC.
These scams and complaints arise from companies wrongfully using consumer data or private information, or not correctly storing consumer data.