What scams you need to look out for in 2020

Help Me Hank looks at scams in Metro Detroit.

DETROIT – It’s important to keep yourself safe -- especially when millions of dollars are lost to scammers every year.

Nearly $2 million was lost to scammers in Michigan in 2019.

According to experts, if you get phone calls and emails that look fishy -- it’s all about taking a step back and asking yourself, “Is it too good to be true?”

RELATED: A look back on what scams hit Metro Detroit and what’s ahead

Do not be afraid to think things through. It also helps to be aware of what scams are being used.

IRS: Taxpayers should be on the lookout for new version of SSN scam

Scammers call victims to be from the IRS or Social Security and claim you owe money.

It’s yet another attempt by con artists to frighten people into returning ‘robocall’ voicemails.

Government agencies don’t do this. They operate through the U.S. Postal Service or in person.

Romance scammers are taking advantage of vulnerable women online to get money

Romance scams were on the rise in 2019.

Investigators have always thought online dating impostors were following a script, or a playbook, and now it appears in many cases that’s exactly what’s happening.

If someone you’ve never met face-to-face is asking you to give them money -- it’s a scam.

Metro Detroit woman scammed out of thousands of dollars when she tries to buy puppy online

2019 also saw a rise in puppy scams.

Local 4 spoke with a woman in Metro Detroit who lost about $4,000 due to a puppy scam.

Once they get you to agree on a dog, scammers will keep asking you to send money.

Buying pets online is a risky game. It’s easier -- and safer -- to find a nearby pet from a local shelter.

RELATED: Michigan Humane Society: 30-pound cat needs home, help with diet

Looking ahead to 2020

Looking ahead to 2020, consumers should expect impostor scams.

Scammers know you’re on the lookout, so they’ll try spoofing a number that looks like it’s in your area or even from someone you know.

Phishing scams are expected to be on rise in 2020.

Expect more phishing scams in your inbox -- especially during tax season.

If you get an email that’s asking you click a link -- it could be a front for something malicious.

Once you start filling in your personal and financial information, that information is sent directly to hackers.

Gift card scams might also hit your mailbox this year.

If you use a gift card online, make sure you’re putting information on a secured website.

About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.