WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWLP) – If you get notified about an inheritance from a long lost or unknown relative, chances are it’s not real.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reporting that they’ve received complaints from people who say they received official looking letters from law firms looking to find the beneficiary of a multi-million dollar inheritance.

In reality, probate attorneys do look for extended family members when someone dies without a will or immediate family that they can connect with. But, they will not ask you to send money for administrative, court, or processing fees. A legitimate attorney will not ask for your banking information to deposit the inheritance, or your social security number and other personal information under the guise of verifying your identification.

The scammers may offer to split the inheritance between you, their law firm, and some charities. They may also insist that you keep this information secret and keep in contact by email.

These letters look real and oftentimes falsely use a real law firm’s letterhead and attorney names. Your best bet is to look up these law offices online or contact the state’s bar association where they are located to get the real phone number and speak with someone directly. Do not respond to emails or pressure tactics.

Here’s what to do if you get one of these letters:

  • Don’t respond. Keep your money — and your information — to yourself. Never send money or information to a stranger who promises big rewards. That’s always a scam.
  • Pass this information on to a friend. You probably throw away these kinds of letters. But you probably know someone who could use a friendly reminder.
  • Report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.