Consumer Corner Column

Consumer Corner: Scammers latest trick – asking for cold, hard cash

Release Date: Apr 10, 2017

Over the past several years, we have warned consumers repeatedly about not wiring money to someone who asks for it over the phone. This had been scammers' preferred method for collecting their bounty because of its ease in quickly getting money into untraceable, often offshore, accounts. 

Consumers have been catching on to the scammers' trick, though. And clerks at store counters that provide wire transfer services have also been trained to spot the signs of scams, resulting in thousands or even millions of dollars kept out of scammers’ hands.

Even the federal government has caught onto this, recently prohibiting legitimate telemarketers from asking for wire transfers. That means if anyone on the phone asks you to wire money, you know right away they are breaking the law and should hang up immediately.

Unfortunately, now the scammers are looking for new ways to get you to part with your hard-earned dollars. 

One method that has caught our attention recently is an old classic – asking you to mail or FedEx cash. This should set off the same alarm bells as asking you to wire money, because once it’s gone – often to an untraceable mailbox – it can be just as impossible to get back.

One such incident recently reported involved the grandparent scam, asking the consumer to mail cash out-of-state to help a grandchild with court fees and travel expenses. To help avoid detection, sometimes scammers ask their victims to place the cash between pages of a book or magazine and then mail the publication.

Don't do it.

Remember, if you receive a phone call claiming to be someone in desperate need of your cash – whether they’re claiming to be a grandchild, an IRS agent or the local court clerk – it’s probably not real. Just hang up. If you’re worried it might be real, call back at a number you know is theirs – not the phone number the scammer gave you. If the caller claimed to be from a government agency, look up the phone number in the phone book or on the agency’s official website to call and verify. You’re better off safe than sorry.

Our Consumer Protection Division is also here to help. You can find more information on how to protect yourself from scams on our consumer protection website at or by calling our consumer protection hotline at (800) 432-2310.