Here are the companies scammers impersonate most


PayPal, Zelle, and CashApp users better be careful, too.

Dear Geek Squad, Amazon, PayPal, Microsoft, and Publishers Clearing House, the federal regulators say you have a big problem. The agency has counted all the impersonation scam complaints it’s been receiving and you are on the short list of the companies being faked the most – on the phone, in emails and messages, and pop-ups on consumers’ computers.

The reason these companies are the most common targets is pretty simple: scammers can craft a tale that makes you want to act on it quickly.

Someone fraudulently using your PayPal account? Someone at Microsoft thinks your computer has been compromised? Publishers Clearing House wants to give you $50,000?

Every single one of these is a lead-in to getting you to fork over credit card numbers or an advance payment to fix what the person on the other end of the phone swears on a stack of Bibles will get worse if you don’t fix it ASAP.

The numbers don’t lie

Who else is in the Top 10?

What impersonated companies cost consumers the most?

Scammers impersonating Microsoft and Publishers Clearing House clean up more than impersonating any other companies. In total, consumers reported losing $60 million to Microsoft impersonation scams and $49 million to Publishers Clearing House impersonation scams. Here’s the entire list…

As you know, impersonation scams are a different-strokes-for-different-folks kind of thing. If it's an investment scam, scammers usually want cryptocurrency or a bank transfer. Those cons lead the way because they result in the highest losses. 

If it's an online shopping scam, the scammer will usually ask for payment through apps like PayPal, CashApp, or Zelle. 

To keep yourself safe, these three musts should do the trick:

  • Stop and check it out. “Before you do anything else, talk with someone you trust. Anyone who’s rushing you into sending money, buying gift cards, or investing in cryptocurrency is almost certainly a scammer,” the FTC’s Emma Fletcher said.

  • Never click on links or respond to unexpected messages, and never trust caller ID. Fletcher advises consumers that if you think a story might be legit, contact the company or agency using a phone number or website you know is real.

  • Don’t pay anyone who demands that you pay by gift card, cryptocurrency, money transfer, or payment app. If someone says, “Ma’am, that’s the only way you can pay,” then hang up. “Only scammers say there’s only one way to pay,” Fletcher noted.

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