Protecting Yourself From Fraud: Tips From Experts

Tips and resources from from ABC chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross and ABC’s “The Fixer” Stephanie Zimmermann.

Three best ways to prevent being scammed:

  1. Transfer money through secure services like PayPal (Red flag: using a wire transfer service)
  2. Always run Internet offers through the Internet crime complaint center at, which describes the latest scams
  3. Trust your gut

Watch out for these types of scams:

Phantom Debt Collectors

This is relatively new scam, where someone calls and claims to be an American police officer. Victims are told they still owe money on a debt. Scammers have victims’ actual financial information, many work out of call centers in India and buy names of people who get online loans.


  • Police are never going to call and arrest you because you owe a debt
  • Be cautious, report these calls to the Federal Trade Commission
Charity “Make-A-Wish” Scammers

Victims of this scam were told by supposed government agents that they had to pay taxes upfront before earning winnings from a Make-A-Wish sweepstakes. Scammers used internet phone so caller ID read something like “government agency.”


  • You don’t pay taxes on sweepstakes
  • Make-A-Wish doesn’t do a sweepstakes like this
Online Marketers “Free Trial”

You sign up for a “free” membership, but read the the small print. You’re often locked into paying and/or shelling for shipping and handling.

Mystery Shopper

You apply for job, are “hired” and receive a check in the mail. This check is a counterfeit check (stolen from a real person’s account), which can take banks 2-3 weeks to realize.


  • If it sounds too good to be true it probably is – mystery shopper is a job that exists, it’s often part time and you would never get rich doing it
Mortgage Rescue Scam

These scammers advertise offering services to get you out of debt problems and make you pay an administrative or processing fee upfront, but then take your money and disappear. You’ve already filled out forms and given them all your banking information, so the scam continues.

For more information on Brian Ross and Stephanie Zimmermann, check out “The Fixer” on

How do you protect yourself from online scams and fraud?