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If someone claiming to be with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) contacts you and asks you to send money, it’s a scam. Do not pay. Report it. Spread the word to your family and friends.

We’ve received reports that imposters are calling, emailing, even texting or faxing, and pretending to be with the FTC, in an attempt to gain your trust and to steal your hard-earned money. They’re contacting people about fake prize winnings, grants, or refunds, or saying you’re in trouble and need to pay delinquent accounts or fees. Their goal is to either excite or scare you into sending money. The truth is, the FTC does not call, email, text, or fax consumers to ask for payment. Those are scams. In fact, the Department of Justice just announced that two scammers who impersonated the FTC (and the SEC) were found guilty of scamming people out of $10 million.

The FTC does distribute money to people after suing entities for unlawful practices. In fact, according to our 2017 Annual Report, 6.28 million people received checks from the FTC between July 2016 and June 2017.

However, the FTC will NEVER ask you to send money or provide bank account information to get your money back. If you are entitled to a refund from a FTC lawsuit, you will usually receive a check or claim form with details about the case. The case will be listed in our chart of recent cases resulting in refunds. You can call the number associated with the case on our website if you have any questions.

Imposters won’t stop at just using the FTC’s name. They’ll use the names of any people or organizations you trust. Dealing with imposters in real time can be difficult. But it’s important to take note of not just the story that they tell, but also how they ask you to pay. If they ask you to pay by wiring them money, getting iTunes cards, or putting money on a MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload, or Reloadit card, it’s a scam.

 

If someone impersonating the FTC has contacted you, do not pay, report it, and spread the word. It may help someone close to you avoid a scam.

40 Comments


It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Scared to answ…
February 16, 2018

Contacted FCC & FTC about annoying phone calls from "Cellphone, IN" 765-707-7860 "Michael" asking for $5,000. I've either hung up immediately or not answered his 2-3 calls daily since Dec. Now, he's calling from the following numbers also: 765-786-7412 "Unavailable", or 606-475-9354 "Karen L. Sherman" or 402-498-4656 "Travelers Co." PLEASE HELP! I'm frightened

KHALIFA TCHARANA
December 24, 2019
Buenas noches Me ha gustado mucho He entendido todo muy bien Muchas gracias
darwinpocampo
February 20, 2018

In reply to by Scared to answ…

Wire transfer to my mastercard. My money order..

Mark
February 15, 2018
Although I have never experienced this scam I do get many via phone from fake debt collectors threatening me with arrest or law suits. Since I have educated myself on all things scam I have never been a victim, also I have no outstanding debt. Educate yourself, don't answer ANY calls from numbers you don't know and never send money or donate based on a phone call. We all have the power to fight back so be smart and don't be another victim.
Debbie N
February 15, 2018
I've has several people calling saying the are from the Federal reserve about government grants. Then saying I would have 250 dollars and go to Western Union to receive said money.
FTC Staff
February 15, 2018

In reply to by Debbie N

That sounds like a government grant scam. The Federal Reserve does not give grants to individual people.

If someone says you will get a grant, but they want you to pay money first, it is definitely a scam. Read more about government grant scams.

D
February 15, 2018
I've been receiving magazines REGULARLY! I don't know who's sending them. I DIDN'T subscribe to them..I KNOW THIS IS A SCAM! No bill has been sent YET...
P.J.
February 15, 2018

In reply to by D

It's my understanding that you can keep unsolicited gifts and not have to pay for them. If you get a bill, don't pay it.
FTC Staff
February 16, 2018

In reply to by P.J.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, when you receive merchandise that you didn’t order, you don’t have to pay for it. Federal laws prohibit mailing unordered merchandise to consumers and then demanding payment. Read more about your rights and unordered merchandise.

jonniev
February 16, 2018

In reply to by D

Magazine companies will sometimes send out free subscriptions in the hope you will like it and renew it when it is time. My wife gets a free Woman's Day and I get the ESPN magazine.
PW
February 20, 2018

In reply to by D

I keep getting magazines too. They sent me a bill and I sent it back written across saying I DID NOT ORDER STOP SENDING . No more bills or magazines
Steven B.
February 15, 2018

janettyelleno8o @ gmail.com received an email from the Federal Reserve Bank of NY. that I would receive 5.5 million dollars. If I pay Gay m. Campell via Walmart . in pittsburg pennsilvainia . 400.00 usd

I as well reci…
November 03, 2019

In reply to by Steven B.

I aswell recieved a call from aDavid White 8768018131 saying I had won a 50 million cash award and my choice of one of three new cars. I was to recieve 10000 a mo th for the next 24 years and if I die who should I choose be my beneficiary. Then hit me with the at first 50 dollar but by the end was 1000 send via walmart. I told hi. I had no money no problem theres a broker I could barrow from at walgreens I could pay him back after receiving my cash award one hour after payment is made of 1000 for the taxes on the winnings
Fiona
February 15, 2018
The FBI is after me all the time!! I know its a scam so I just DELETE
P.J.
February 15, 2018

In reply to by Fiona

If you go on the FBI website, they will probably tell of this scam and others.
larry dieter
February 15, 2018
Not long ago AT@T sent me a bill for early termination fee after being with them for 20 or 30 years and they also would not give me back the 38.00 they owed me finally I asked The Federal Trade to look into it they returned all my money the FTC is very good they helped me when AT@T was trying to stick it to me I now know they are honest like myself No more AT@T for me as far as I am cocerned they are nothing but crooks
Rick
February 16, 2018

In reply to by larry dieter

I had the same problem with AT&T. Phony final bill, threats, intimidation, and phone reps who said the problem was solved - but wasn't. Finally got the BBB involved. I'm soooo grateful to be rid of AT&T!! Glad to know you can call the FTC on them too.
ieshiastewa
February 16, 2018
ok thank you
enoughisenough
February 16, 2018
For many years, off and on, I've rec'd calls from Visa/MasterCard telling me they can reduce my interest rate. Sometimes it is a recorded message and sometimes it is a live person. I've tried everything to get them to stop. These last few months I receive a minimum of one call a day, mostly two calls and one day I rec'd four! I've put all my numbers on the Do Not Call list in 2014 and these calls are still invading my home. I will soon have call display but somehow I don't think that will help. What can be done?
jonniev
February 16, 2018
Regarding the unsolicited magazine subscriptions. Magazine companies will sometimes send out free subscriptions. They hope you will like the magazine and renew it when it is time. No obligation to renew.I get a free ESPN mag. and the wife gets a free Woman's Day
rpuns
February 21, 2018
I have been hearing radio commercials telling people to go to www. freedomchecks. com, because the government is giving away money. Is this a scam, or something quasi-legal?
FTC Staff
April 20, 2018

In reply to by rpuns

No, the government is not giving away money. Some scams say you qualify for a “free grant” to pay for education, home repairs or unpaid bills. Others pretend to be a “government” agency or some other organization with an official sounding name.

Don't give your bank account information to someone you don't know. Don't give them personal information, and don't pay to get a "free grant." Read more about grant scams.

Tutte
February 22, 2018
I have been scammed for a large amount of money last year, I dont know the name of the scammer. 3 weeks ago I got a message on Facebook from a man named Dan Harrison He wanted to be a friend of mine, and I accept,he told me was in Oilbusiness.The man that scammed me last year was working on an oilrig ExxonMobil In Canada, I asked the man if he had any knowlegde about the scammer. He told me he had a friend in Ghana, former minister of economic who could help Me.His name is Baturu Abdoulaye, He was in connection with FBI, and told me they have been arrested my scammer If I want my money back I had to pay 500$ for the Work.I paid the amount because I wanted my money back immediately. He sent me a paper I have to sign with my name, adress and date of birth. He promissed me to send a sheck with the amount I lost. I did not return or filled out the paper,what Am I going to Do? The name of the man who contacted me on Facebook is Dan Harrison.
FTC Staff
April 20, 2018

In reply to by Tutte

The person who contacted you three weeks ago could be another scammer. Sometimes, scammers work together. After one person scams you, he gives your name to another scammer. Soon, the next scammer contacts you and pretends he will help you. If you answer, he asks for money to "help" you get a refund. Really, it is a scam too.

You can report the person to the FTC at FTC.gov/Complaint, and to Facebook. You can report them to the wire transfer company you used. Call the Western Union Fraud Hotline at 800-448-1492 or the MoneyGram Customer Care Center at 1‑800‑926‑9400.

You might get more friend requests from people connected to the scammers. If you send money, you will probably lose the money.

Az Jake
February 24, 2018
Got a call from +1(949) 698-9225 threatening me with arrest "by the local cops" because "there are four serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment." Call them before they take legal action against me. I want to file a complaint against these people!
Cp7674
March 01, 2018
Watch out for 506 numbers from costarica cole gaither chad whitner kevin Martinez hernandez, Don holm cherly holm sweepstakes scam lost $4500 sent thru wester union saying they were with ftc southern accent can speak Spanish too.
Cp7674
March 01, 2018
Ftc sweepstakes scam they have you send money thru western union too costarica telling u have short time to reclaim winning you didn't get issued
WORRIED
March 15, 2018
Phone call made from 843-401-5226 stated they have a warrant for my arrest stating in years 2011-2016 I reported taxes intentionally incorrect and now owe $3858 to the IRS. They stated all information under my social including checks, accounts, and payments will be frozen immediately. I have reported my taxes correctly up to date through a tax firm. Should I be concerned? They also gave me a case number: AEJ7058. This cannot be correcy, in 2011 i was only 15 years old.
DJA
March 26, 2018

In reply to by WORRIED

If you look at the IRS's website, they state that they will never contact people initially by phone - they will always send a letter. (They also would certainly not start out by threatening you in this manner.) You don't have anything to worry about, but you might want to file a formal complaint.
KRF
March 20, 2018
I have been contacted by someone named Jerry Williams he says he is an FBI agent and he has my money from a previous scam. But he insists i have to pay to get it back his phone number is 2028440756
KRF
October 22, 2018

In reply to by KRF

I am reporting Jerry Williams. He claims to be an FBI agent. He claims the name of his office is Federal Government Scam trackers. He told me he had my money from a previous scammer. Then he said i had to pay a fee and i would get it back. I paid 500 but then were excuses and more fees. He has said he will deliver this and never does. I have been ripped off of at least 3500$. His phone number is 2028440756. Please find this guy put him out of business
billnlu
April 09, 2018
I’m getting threatening call s from a number in CA claiming to be the IRS. They say I will be prosecuted. They go so far as giving me a name (usually something very American) and a badge number in a very heavy Indian accent. I am told that they have an arrest warrant and I will be put in jail unless I pay them. I call their bluff but have had several threatening messages left on my cell phone. Is there nothing that can be done about this? I get these calls not only during tax season but year round.
isel
May 24, 2018
i got the same kind of thing going on i got a call from this person in a indian voice saying in owed money and had to pay they called on me on april 11th and in was so scared that i made payment arrangments because they said they were either going to take me court go to jail and threaten me to send an officer to arrest me i told him to send me paperwork proving and that he was calling on behalf of mark becker from the (FTC) let me advise you the guy who presented his name and Richard Davis stayed on the phone with me the WHOLE entire time i was wiring the money to some Nia Carter in Ohio Columbus, once in made the payment he asked me if i walking out the walmart and if i was in my car yet or not, the only payment option is wiring money no debit or credit card is taken so they have been texting me as well from a area code 202, i looked online with alot of people claiming they got the same email and ended being fake i need some advice from a profesional i am scared that someone is trying to scam me!
FTC Staff
May 24, 2018

In reply to by isel

The FTC does not call people and tell them to wire money. The people who called you were scammers. The scammers might call or text again, because you paid them one time. They might try to get more money from you.

The FTC, IRS and other government agencies will not call or text you and tell you to wire money immediately. That is what scammers say.

If someone says you owe money, tell them to send a letter that explains what you owe. If you really owe a debt, a legitimate debt collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling how much money you owe. The notice must show  the name of the creditor you owe money to, and say what you can do if you don’t think you owe the money.

annoyed
May 08, 2018
I keep getting calls from different numbers out of Nevada (702) area code, and when I speak with them they say that they are located in Florida. They insist that I have an outstanding bill. Do debt collectors usually use 3-5 numbers when contacting you? I tried to call one of the numbers once, in hopes I could get a hold of someone, and it gives me a pre-recorded message saying "the number you have called is not in service" and then cuts to complete silence. Is this a scam?
Viola M
June 15, 2018
I made two phone calls. One last week and today. I am still receiving the calls.
Don't use your…
November 08, 2018
I’ve been scammed by so many people
Juno54
April 01, 2019
Would by any chance you or the western union co. have any reason to request my ss# due to deficient...