When you hear a distant relative left behind a sizable inheritance for you, it might be too good to be true.

Scammers purporting to represent a deceased relative’s estate are contacting people across North America with promises of thousands or millions of dollars in inheritance.

Typically, this scam begins when you receive an email or letter purporting to be from an attorney. It says a person with the same last name has passed away and put millions of dollars in an offshore bank account. They say the money is yours for the taking, but you must pay taxes and fees. A person pays the fees, often with a wire transfer or gift card, but never receives the money.

Unfortunately, many consumers nationwide have fallen victim. The Better Business Bureau serving Louisville, Southern Indiana and Western Kentucky is warning consumers against these fake inheritance scams.

If you receive correspondence like this, BBB provides the following tips to recognize and avoid it:

• Be skeptical. While the money might be tempting, be wary of the source. If you don’t recognize the name of the deceased relative, it likely is a scam. Also watch for poor grammar and misspellings.

• Protect your personal information. Never give personal information, such as Social Security numbers or credit card information, to an untrusted source.

• Discard the email/letter. If you are in doubt about the correspondence, throw it away or delete it.

For more consumer tips, go to bbb.org or call 1-800-388-2222.

Mindy Eaton, director of communications and marketing for the Better Business Bureau’s regional office, can be reached at meaton@bbb.louisville.org.