Common Scams

Below are common types of scams commonly used by thieves to gain access to your personal information or steal your money.

Nigerian Scams or 419 Fraud

Nigerian scams (also known as 419 fraud) are one of the most common types of scams. This type of scam comes in the form of unsolicited communication, like email or postal mail, to the recipient that offers the opportunity to share a large sum of money with a self-proclaimed government official. The recipient is encouraged to send personal information, mainly bank account information, in order to pay taxes on these large sums of money, pay legal fees associated with the large sum of money, or as payment to get the thief out of the country.

Lottery Scams

Lottery scams are unsolicited messages via email, letter, or fax that claim the recipient has won a lottery. Lottery scams often claim you were randomly chosen as a “winning entry” even though you never bought a ticket or entered in a lottery. Often times, lottery scams will even claim to be endorsed by well-known companies and will ask you to provide personal information and to send money to cover expenses associated with the winnings. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Social Media Scams

A majority of social media scams want you to enter your username and password. If you receive anything via social media that asks to see who has unfriended you, who has viewed your profile, etc., do not click on the message, even if it comes from a friend. And always be suspicious of any communication that offers money.

Even if it appears you are on a familiar site, double check the web address of every link you click. If you’re not on the site you thought you were on, close out immediately.  

Classified Ad Scams

A majority of classified ad scams want you to wire money. Never agree to wire money when purchasing merchandise from a classified ad. To avoid becoming victim to a classified ad scam, only deal locally with people you can meet in person. If you are selling online, be sure that cashier checks and money orders are not fake.

As always, never provide personal information like bank accounts, PayPal info, social security numbers, etc.  

Internet Auction Scams

Internet auction scams are tempting, because you can find items priced far too low, but be careful. They could be fake items, stolen merchandise, in poor condition, or a scam that you pay for and never receive the item you bought. When shopping Internet auction sites, never agree to pay via cash or money order. As with all scams, if someone approaches you through email or instant message, never buy from them. Their goal is to get you to a fake website and steal your personal information.

Remember, any business, including Hills Bank, will never call you and ask for personal account information by email, text, or phone. For more information and examples of common scam types, visit

Visit for more information about IRS related scams and actions to take if you receive unsolicited communications claiming to be from the IRS.