A woman looking at a phone questioning what she is seeing

What are Imposter Scams?

Imposter scams involve people pretending to be someone you trust. They might claim to be a relative in trouble, a representative from your credit union or bank, or a government official. Their goal is to manipulate your trust and convince you to send money or provide your confidential, private information.

What is Spoofing?

Spoofing occurs when a scammer makes their call, email, text message or website appear to be from a trusted source. For example, they may imitate a real phone number you have saved on your devices to make them appear to be a person or organization you trust. Their goal is to steal your sensitive information, like passwords, one-time passcodes and credit card numbers. Spoofing can also be used to install malware (malicious software), including viruses or fake security software.

Common Tricks to Be Aware Of

Tricks used during spoofing and imposter scams can include:


  • Urgency and Fear: Scammers use fear and urgency to create confusion, so you’ll act out of emotion, not logic. They’ll claim immediate action is required to resolve a problem or avoid a threat.
  • Kindness: Some scammers use friendliness to persuade you to share your secret information.
  • Manipulating Caller ID: In phone spoofing, scammers can control caller ID to display a real, legitimate phone number or a phone number similar to the one they are impersonating.
  • Phishing Emails: Scammers can copy official communications from reputable organizations, complete with logos and legitimate-looking email addresses. They want you to think you are communicating with a trusted business.
  • Request for Confidential Information: Scammers frequently ask for personal details such as birthdates, bank account numbers, access codes, credit or debit card numbers and more. They often claim they need this information to verify your identity or resolve an issue.

How to Protect Yourself

To help protect yourself from spoofing and imposter scams, follow these tips:


  • Verify the Source: Before responding to unsolicited emails, calls, texts or online messages, verify the accuracy of the source. If the message is from your financial institution, contact the organization through an official phone number or website. Do not use phone numbers, emails or website addresses that sound strange or are uninvited.
  • Think Before You Click: Avoid clicking links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails, texts, online messages and websites.
  • Enhance Security Measures: Use multi-factor authentication for your accounts, maintain antivirus software on your electronics and keep devices updated. Change your passwords every few months on your financial accounts.
  • Educate Yourself and Others: Stay informed about the latest scam tactics and educate your family and friends on how to recognize and avoid them.

Reputable organizations will never contact you to ask for your personal or financial information over the phone, email, text or online. Stay alert and be cautious with your private information. Question unsolicited requests and never provide information if someone is pressuring you to do so.