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Did you recently get an official FTC letter from “me”? That’s in quotes because it wasn’t actually from me. And the letter wasn’t official, or even from the FTC at all. In fact, scammers have been faking official-looking letterhead to write scary messages to people, threatening them. But, again: it’s not real.

We know about this scam because a gentleman in Pennsylvania was smart enough to take it to his bank, and together, they reported it to the FTC. The letter said his online and financial activities put him under suspicion of money laundering and terrorism. And now, all his “activities will be under review.”

Our best guess is that this letter is just the first part of a scam. The second part will probably involve “urgent” phone calls telling people to send money right away. Now, though, you can spot the scam. Here’s what to know to protect yourself against government imposters like these.

  • The FTC will never send a letter like this, and we’ll never threaten you.
  • The FTC does write back to people who write to us, and we sometimes send letters about a refund from a case – but then, we’ll never ask you to pay anything or give personal info to collect your funds. (Find more about FTC refunds at ftc.gov/redress.)
  • No government agency will ever demand that you pay by gift card, wiring money, or bitcoin. Anyone who does that is a scammer. Full stop.
  • Find out more about imposter scams of all sorts at ftc.gov/imposters.

If you get a letter from the FTC, we want to know. Before you do anything else, please call the FTC’s Consumer Response Center at 1.877.FTC.HELP (1.877.382.4357).

Meanwhile, sign up to get the FTC’s consumer alerts to stay up on the latest scams.

22 Comments


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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.

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Mike
December 03, 2019
I do not understand the difficulty you apparently have shutting down these SCAMS. I have been convalescing from surgery for 5 weeks in our home. Our phone rings 15 times a day with one more absurd ROBO call. It seems to me that the FTC could follow up on these and make an example of a few hundred and scare the rest off. Secondly, my mail inbox (junk) fills up with ridiculous offers, SCAMS, to trick individuals. Again, why cannot the FTC make examples of these bums and put several hundred in jail?
FTC Staff
December 09, 2019

In reply to by Mike

You can reduce the amount of mail you get:

  • To stop getting pre-screened offers of credit and insurance for 5 years, call 1-888-567-8688 or go to www.optoutprescreen.com.
  • You can choose what kind of direct marketing mail you get. Register online with the Direct Marketing Association at www DMAchoice.org and manage the mail you get. It costs $2 for 10 years.
Krlyman
December 03, 2019
I hate to say this but . . . the internet needs to be more tightly controlled. The bad actors are starting to outweigh the good folks.
annette penko
December 03, 2019
I got a call this morning saying that I need to press 1 to talk to a S.S. OR THEY WILL FILE A FRAUD CLAIM against me the phone number was 800-1409140
Carl Bowles
December 13, 2019

In reply to by annette penko

I received that phone call too Right away I knew it was a scam Social Security uses first class mail not phone calls
Patty patio
December 03, 2019
Had a call this morning from a company saying my Microsoft computer was going to expire today and to call this number 1-800-436-9311. The caller ID shows up as 1-800 Service.
Ted
December 03, 2019
Ref the msg "Scammers Pretend to be FTC" dated 12/03/19: It was not clear in the blog whether the source address from the sender under DETAILS forged the FTC address/URL? In any case, if the email is suspicious I have found it is always a good precaution to check the address of the sender under DETAILS next to the sender info to verify if the email is actually from who the message says it is. Not always fool proof but not all scammers are of high intellect. Some have found ways to cloud the issue but this technique can increase your awareness & prevent you from opening a threatening message.
Don't use your…
December 03, 2019
thank you for all your info, and i have been getting a lot of phone calls about warrants etc, three in one hour on all toll free call numbers!! beware!!
MinisterM65
December 10, 2019

In reply to by Don't use your…

I have been getting calls about warrants too telling me to call a 866 number that goes to voicemail. They call 3-4 times then leave a message claiming to be from the FTC saying it’s imperative to call. I called then they told me to call some 866 number.
haynesjohny12
December 11, 2019

In reply to by Don't use your…

gave my ssn to scammer but only the last 4 digits dont know what to do
Annadanna
December 12, 2019

In reply to by Don't use your…

Do not answer toll-free numbers when they show up on your caller ID. Better yet, silence your phone ringer and have a voice message that directs "real" people you want to hear from to leave their number and you will return their calls.
rikoshea
December 03, 2019
I get this msg alot it is in notifyer " microsoft account problem we need to fix your microsoft account( most likely your password changed)Select here to fix it in the shared experences settings when I went there all boxes were empty except one opened it it said put your pin number in. I shut notifier for now. I never open that setting.
YaYa-1959
December 03, 2019
In clearing out old paperwork in my desk I found an unopened check. The check looks real and the company responsible for the refund is Rincon Debt Management. The claim number is on it. I do think it’s not a scam. The problem is that it’s dated back in 2017. I certainly could use it in this Holiday Season.
Honor
December 04, 2019
Some of those scams are so comical in the amateurish way they're put together that the trashcan is immediately the place for it all. The more so-called 'sophistication' scammers use the more savvy consumers become. Power is always with the people.
Lois
December 05, 2019
I file a report with the attorney general office there told me to file one with you Capitol One take advantage of people
Buckeye2843
December 05, 2019
I am so tired of those scammers calling me day and night. From Russia, Canada, and other places. Don't have family or friends there. The calls start from 9 am until. I stop answering my phone. The scammer starts using my area code now. Also, am getting the scammer emails too the emails look likes Amazon, wells Fargo, Bank of America. looks like the real one. I was not thinking and open the email and now trying to get my information. I should have known better. I am sickly and I don't think until I did it.so I call those places and told them about these scams. On Facebook Amazon scam. I called Amazon and ask was this real on Facebook about amazon. One of customer service says no it's not us. You have to stop Facebook for letting those types of a scammer on their sites. The lady that inbox on Facebook says she is from amazon and she wanted to know I was a prime member. I told her yes and she says did you want to sell products. And I knew right then she was a scam. So I block her from my page. Think you listening I hope something we'll be done soon about the scammers.
tazdav8281
December 16, 2019
I'm a veteran I keep getting scams
Annadanna
December 12, 2019
People should silence the ringers on their phones. Be sure to have a voice-mail message that says you're avoiding nuisance calls and that you will return calls to people you want to talk with if they leave a phone number and verification that they are legitimate. I've gone to this practice, and it saves much frustration. I return calls to people or businesses I want/need to talk with and SKIP the scammers, phony "Medicare" businesses, outfits that want to sell me warranties and insurances I do not want, etc. And I'm much happier!
Fakessa
January 13, 2020
I receive upwards of 5 calls a day from different 800 numbers. If I answer or hit a call back number I get a “that number has been disconnected “ I am noting the numbers and will send them to SSA, Meantime the list of blocked numbers keeps growing too.
charlee
January 13, 2020
what is the endowment system? Is it legitimate?
Answerman
January 27, 2020
I want to thank the FTC for bringing this Scam to light and any consumer that reported the scam. Remember, no one is going to send you easy money. Think and Question everything. Thanks again.
Brigshell
February 11, 2020
I got a call from 1-844-899-6597 telling me I was being investigated by the SSA and fraud charges are being filed against me, that I need to return the call ASAP to protect myself