Become an Anti-Scam Superhero!

I would bet a million dollars that everyone reading this has received a scam call of some kind or knows someone who has.

By Catherine Blinder

It’s not your imagination, it’s real, and it happens to everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, race, class, location, or education – basically anyone who uses a phone or computer. We are all vulnerable to scammers, but we each have the power to stop them.

It's not your fault. They know how to get to us emotionally. For many people who were raised to be polite and kind, it seems rude not to respond to a call or a text. But the unscrupulous people who make these calls or send us text messages are not our friends– they are criminals determined to take advantage of us and take our money, personal information, and financial details.

 It doesn’t take much information to open the door to your entire financial history. A good scammer can create a profile of you with only two or three pieces of information that are easily available on your social media combined with anything they might ask for, like the last four numbers of your social security number, or just the name of your bank. That’s all they need to build a profile of you that will allow them to access to your financial and personal information. Then they sell that information on the dark web and your exposure multiplies.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) people reported losing $10 billion to scams in 2023. That's $1 billion more than 2022 and the highest ever in losses reported. And we have to remember that those numbers reflect only the scams that were reported.

Many people don’t report scams and frauds because they are embarrassed and ashamed that they “fell for it”. We can’t stop the criminals unless we stop the shame. We can’t stop the shame and embarrassment until we realize that we are not to blame if we respond to a scam.

They are very good at what they do – it’s as though they have studied human behavior and say and do exactly what they know many people will believe.   But we are smarter than they are, we just need to remember what their tactics are and be prepared. We can stop the scams by slowing down, taking a breath, not responding emotionally when threatened or offered a great deal. We can stop the scams just by saying no and telling others to do the same.

The best way to protect yourself is to not answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize, and don’t respond to text messages from people you don’t know. They will leave a message if it’s important.

Make it a game! Jot down a mark on the calendar every time you deny a scammer. Stay one step ahead of the bad guys and tell everyone you know how to avoid be scammed. Become a neighborhood anti-scam superhero!

Sometimes, however, we forget, and we respond.

Superheroes approach danger and stay calm. They stop and consider consequences before acting. Ask yourself if this sounds realistic? Why would I be getting this “once-in-lifetime” offer? Is it an offer only made to superheroes? Take a breath and say no if you have answered the phone.

 Imposter scams remains the top fraud category, with reported losses of $2.7 billion. These scams include people pretending to be your bank’s fraud department, the government, a relative in distress, a well-known business, a technical support expert, a charity, a utility provider, the post office, or an investment opportunity. If someone calls you and demands payment, hang up and call the number for them listed on their website.

The second most common scams last year were social media scams. Scams starting on social media accounted for the highest total losses at $1.4 billion. But scams that started by a phone call caused the highest per-person loss ($1,480 average loss).

How did scammers prefer that people pay? With bank transfers and payments, which accounted for the highest losses ($1.86 billion). Cryptocurrency is a close second ($1.41 billion reported in losses). Be cautious when using PayPal, Chime, Venmo, Google Pay, Zelle, Wise, or any other peer-to-peer payments that allow access to your bank account.

If you insist on using these payment methods, please google the one you are using to see if there are complaints or lawsuits against them. For instance – google Venmo+complaints or Venmo+lawsuits. What comes up will provide you with information about the company and what kinds of complaints users have reported. Then you can make an informed decision.

Charity fraud continues to spike after natural disasters and these calls are the hardest to resist. Many of us want to help, even if it is in some small way, when bad things happen, but this is when the scammers go into high gear. They will reach for both your heart and your money. Don’t ever give to anyone or any charity who calls and asks you to send money immediately by gift card, Western Union, debit card, or any of the many immediate payment systems listed above. If you want to give, look up the charity online and either donate to them through their website or call them and ask how to donate directly.

Go to our website at CT Consumer Protection to make sure the charity you are giving to is legitimate; you can also check to see if there are any complaints about them. This link includes a video on how to navigate the site.

Armed with information and the best ways to protect yourself, you can help others avoid being taken advantage of by sharing your knowledge and information. Anti-Scam Superheroes can help stop the scammers, and reporting suspected scams and frauds can help government agencies track them down and enforce the laws that are meant to protect us. Even superheroes need a hand sometimes.

Please contact CT Consumer Protection if you want to make a consumer complaint.

As always, please pass this on to friends and family.

This article was written by Catherine Blinder, chief education and outreach officer of the Department of Consumer Protection of the State of Connecticut. To learn more about how the Department of Consumer Protection can help, visit us online at