By Attorney General Josh Stein
Scammers are always looking for what’s new and popular to strike the unsuspecting. Cryptocurrency is no exception. Scammers prey on people’s unfamiliarity with and excitement about this new product to trick victims into making poor financial decisions in a variety of different ways. Here’s what you need to know to keep your personal information and money safe.
Cryptocurrency, also called crypto, is a type of digital currency. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ether, can be used to pay for some transactions or as an investment. Unlike the dollar, however, crypto is not backed by a government or bank and often swings wildly in value. Cryptocurrency transactions are not typically reversible and can be difficult to trace back to a person. As with any investment, there are risks, and you shouldn’t invest in crypto unless you have done a lot of research and are comfortable with the stakes.
If anyone demands payment from you in crypto, it’s probably a scam. Because transactions in these currencies are difficult to track and lack the legal protections that traditional credit cards offer, scammers often use them to complete their schemes. Hardly any legitimate businesses require you to make a payment only in crypto.
Do not respond to any communication claiming that unauthorized activity occurred on your crypto account. Scammers often try to trick people into sharing their passwords, which they can use to drain your crypto from your account. Contact the company directly using a number listed on its website to see if the communication is legitimate.
If anyone contacts you and claims you won cryptocurrency for a contest you didn’t enter, it’s a scam. Criminals will target consumers with lottery scams involving crypto to trick them into sharing their personal financial information with the scammer to claim their prize. The winnings will never arrive, and the criminal can steal your money or personal identity.
Scammers are greedy and want to steal from you anything of value – your money, your personal information, or your crypto if you’ve bought some. With these tips, you can better protect yourself. If you believe that you have been the victim of a scam, report the incident to the North Carolina Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Division. Call our office at 877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at https://ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/.