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You get a text, call, or email from someone who says they’re with the government. They may claim to be a U.S. Marshal, saying you must pay a fine for missing jury duty. Or the IRS, saying that you owe thousands in back taxes. Some might threaten legal action, deportation, or arrest if you don’t pay up or give them your financial information.

In other cases, it sounds less scary and more like your lucky day. The call, text, or email will say you’ve won a prize, the lottery, or a grant — but you need to pay some fees or taxes to get your winnings.

These are all scams. Scammers will try to make it seem legitimate. They might give you a badge number, or even know information like the last four digits of your Social Security number. A Washington, D.C. area code on your caller ID also might seem convincing. But caller ID can be faked.

If someone calls, texts, or emails saying they’re with the government and you must pay, stop.

  • Never send money — especially by gift card, cash reload card, or money transfer. No government agency will threaten you or demand payment this way.
  • Don’t give out your personal or financial information to anyone who calls, texts, or emails.
  • If you sent money to a government imposter, contact the company you used to send the money (gift card company, cash reload card company, or wire transfer service) and tell them it was a fraudulent transaction. Ask to have the transaction reversed if possible.
  • Report it to the FTC at

July is Military Consumer Month. Share this video and help military families avoid IRS and government imposters.


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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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August 03, 2018
I got the same call as Steve today 8/2/18 at 3:09pm PDST. I missed the first part because the feamale robtic voice started talking over my voice mail out bound message. The message told me to call 908- 365-0829 which I traced to Elzabeth NJ. I saw the # come up as the phone was ringing didn't recognize it so did not pick up, now don't find it on my missed call log. The biggest joke of all is I started collecting SSI in 2015, it was the last year I had to file income tax. I have been audited in the past (not my fault my idiot brother neglected to send a bank form to declair intrest in CDs in my name after our prents past because I had a lower income. The stocks were immedetly split betwen us and we pay our own taxes now.) The letter came in April I though it was about the claim I had just filed for the prevous year . Turned out it was for the year previous to that. No phone calls no threats of local police comming to take you to jail. I went to the very nice IRS office didn't have to wait long. Nice man explained how to fill out the form. I went back to the lobby filled out the form wrote the check turened it in after IRS processed the sent me back $10.00. BTW I live in Fresno Ca this satalite office is about 15m-20m trip by freeway to the Main IRS office that processes IRS forms for Western USA. At any given time in a grocey store you could be standing next to some one who workrs, worked for the IRS or is closely related to someone who does or did. It gives new meanning to7 degrees of seperation.
October 17, 2019

In reply to by Molliekeepr

I got similar call from 202-272-1470 . Claiming to be from FTC investigation.
August 03, 2018
I received 3 calls from 304-278-3269 about a federal lawsuit against me. When I call back, they said it was the IRS. When I told him I was going to report him, the man insulted me. Please don't fall victim of these scams.
August 04, 2018
I love when these people call. I’ll keep them on the phone as long as possible to waste their time. Then when they hang up on me I keep calling them back. They get so mad. Hahaha
April 29, 2019

In reply to by scamfighter

That’s exactly what I do! I give them all kinds of fake info and when they figure it out, they go nuts.
August 04, 2018
YouTube IRS or Microsoft scam. These guys take it to the next level and scam the scammers and plant viruses on the Microsoft scammers computers. It’s hilarious.
August 04, 2018
April 10 2018 my husband received a robo call on our answering machine claiming to be from the IRS. The caller threatened that the local US marshall was on his way to arrest him for income tax fraud if he did not immediately send a specified amount of money. The number she said to call was 310-356-6947. Was anyone else contacted this way?
August 07, 2018

In reply to by tiredoffraud

I often get these calls. Long ago I learned that the IRS will never initially contact you by telephone regarding fraud, money owed, etc. I recommend ignoring or report the phone number to Federal Trade Commission online complaints.
August 06, 2018
Head’s up... If you get call from 206-460-0901 it’s a scam indicating you will be arrested by Federal Agents if you don’t respond. Report it and block!
August 07, 2018
(651) 273-0325. Received multiple calls today from above number. Recording says the IRS is taking legal action against me and I will be arrested. It tells me to call back the number right away.
August 08, 2018
Got a call today from a 901.633.1826 with a pre order message they were from the IRS and I was being charged with fraudulent taxes and that I would be attested and brought to court. I needed to call the number back. I actually did call it and no one answered, the phone hung up even before the first ring. Twice. I was planning on yelling at them because I know the IRS doesn't act this way but I'm just glad they didn't pick up. Still, I wanted to let you guys know about this number. All it says is it's from Memphis, Tennessee.
August 08, 2018
240-917-2145. Received a robo voicemail threatening me with an arrest warrant if I did not call this number back. Said my identity had been compromised. Also asked for the last four digits of my SSN. Number has been blocked.
August 08, 2018
I received a voicemail with a man who had an Indian accent stating my SS # was involved in criminal activity. When I began to ask him questions he became impatient, threatening, and even as to say no you don't talk to ME like that as if I really was a criminal. If you see this number 1-443-837-8455 please report it.
September 14, 2018

In reply to by cbinatl

I rec'd a robo call telling me my SSN was used for criminal activity and asked me to call 512-782-4429 Texas no. I called this no a man with an accent picked up the phone and represent himself as a Soc. Sec. Officer. I did not hang around for his verbal abuse but hanged up. please report this number if you see it on your dial.
August 09, 2018
here's a couple of numbers that have tried scamming me recently: 619-824-9997, 502-912-8126, 415-852-3309 & 979-635-4984. The last one is the best because they leave a voicemail for you to call this number back because your SSN was used for tax fraud. Of course it was. :p
August 09, 2018
I have gotten 10 calls today and several yesterday from the same people saying they are with the Federal government That my phone # was chosen and want to give me $8,700. Then start to ask me questions about my education because the $ is coming from the Federal Education dept. First off I know it's a scam. They called me from one # I blocked it on my Phone and then called me from another # I blocked it and then another. and so on. 1st call was at 749 am # was 408-578-5874. then # 202-754-1000, 202-923-1102,then caller id said GARCIA,JESUS # 917-476-0530, Then DIST OF COLUMBI # 202-897-2086, then 202-923-1102,. On one call my husband answered Police dept may I help you and he guy was rude and said he was going to scam us and my husband said not today I don't think so. So every one be ware these guys are good and try calling several times a day.
August 10, 2018
If you get a note from "Tax Processing Center" that is from your hometown, but the postage is from California, this is NOT A REAL GOVERNMENT NOTICE. The letter has a header that says "Property Seizure Warranted" It is a tax correction agency named ATS Compliance. DO NOT CALL 866-898-0155. They answer the phone by saying "Good day, how much do you owe?" After I peppered them with questions, they hung up on me, They wouldn't even admit where they were physically located except that they are in Southern California.
October 25, 2018
Here is the latest scam for tax fraud. 914 296 1515 is the number. This call was 8/10 at 5:45 pm, they must not know time zones.
Senior Seeker
August 13, 2018
Over & over I've received calls (voicemails) from what appears to be a federal agency. Here's the transcript: "'s morning this will be an intentional second attempt to avoid initial appearance before a magistrate judge or a grand jury for a federal criminal offense this is the final attempt to reach you to resolve this issue immediately and to speak to a federal agent call us back on 315-210-4743 I repeat 315-210-4743 thank you". I'm getting so sick of recieveing these calls. If it's not this one, it's advertisers trying to seek me something. And then there's the one that says 'they've checked your credit card account and it's okay but the just want to offer a better rate of interest.' These calls come over and over and over again and much of the time they call using a different number than the one they used for their previous call.
CK In denver
June 18, 2019

In reply to by Senior Seeker

I just received the same voice mail message from, (903) 213-3628 today.
October 30, 2019

In reply to by Senior Seeker

Thanks! I got a partial voice mail tonight that had me worried. Then I saw your comment. The same wording - the robovoice said something about a grand jury and said I was to call back such-and-such number to speak to a federal agent.
February 24, 2020

In reply to by Senior Seeker

I got the same message in a vm. Thanks for sharing your experience.
annoyed in RI
October 25, 2018
today I had over a dozen calls, starting at 8am from the following numbers (some say the call originated in Canada) all are scams promising free government grant money from a person with a very heavy (usually Indian) accent. 202-316-6491 768-154-7895 374-167-1985 343-321-8745 375-549-8541 Totally ridiculous. Every time I block one, they start calling from another number.
October 25, 2018
thank you for this info. I have had several of those, E-mail and phone calls, I Feel that I did the right thing in hanging up on these calls. As for E-mails-- I simply delete them, I don't know how I can block them form E-mailing me but id there is a way I'll find it
October 25, 2018
I was not fooled, and I have good number on them. I want to report this number, but there is not place to actually do that !!!! I can make a comment here, but what is that going to do to stop these people. can somebody help me find a real site, to report the phone number to?
August 22, 2018
I used to get a lot more scam calls than I do now. The scammers apparently do not like to let the phone ring more than 4 times before they hang up, so I leave my phone on answering machine. When the phone rings, I count and don't pick up unless I get 5 rings. I waste a lot less time with robo calls now! I don't even walk to the phone.
August 27, 2018
Last month, I received a message via Facebook Messenger about receiving a grant from the U.S. Government and was asked if I was interested, so I said "yes." I was told that I had to be friends with one of the so-called government agents on Facebook and to do what they told me to do: give them my information and buy iTunes cards in order to get a $25,000 grant. I did everything that was asked of me, but then I kept having doubts and thinking that the whole thing was a scam. I kept getting convinced that it was real and legitimate, and I believed every word of it. I was told that of I didn't do what I was told, they would report me to the FBI after I said that I didn't want to continue. All of this was done via text message, by the way. I then talked to two more people, also claiming to be Federal agents. One of them wanted my credit card information and my driver's license, and the other one wanted everything else, including my financial information. Like a fool, I did what I was told, including buying iTunes cards, scratching the codes off the backs of them, and send the codes to them. I then got a text message from an Anthony Nkem Opara saying that he deposited money into my checking account from an account opened in my name from JPMorgan Chase and that he had mistakenly put in $1,985 instead of the $25,000, and that he wanted me to give the money back to him. I went to my local credit union to take out the money, and one of the representatives there had told me that ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about it was legitimate after seeing the texts that he had sent me. After hearing all this, I was thinking to myself, "Ain't that a blip?" I had been deceived, lied to, and made a fool of. My Verizon Wireless account had been hacked, and it turned out that the scammer I had communicated with had purchased over $2,000 worth of cell phones in my name, and my Facebook and Instagram accounts were hacked as well. Because of this, I had lost $700. I had to open a new checking account and everything, and I reported everything to the local police, the Better Business Bureau, and the FBI. I was stupid, naive, and less than smart for falling for that scam. Never again.
August 30, 2018
On Monday 8-27-2018 I got a voice mail saying to call this number immediately regarding social security. I was thinking it was from them since I had just filed for husbands part of social security. Prior to that someone claiming to be with Geek Support saying my computer was compromised. I blew it off but 2 days later my Mac Book Pro was locked so much so Apple could not get in. It had to be erased and new operating system installed. Plus 2 days earlier a bank employee was arrested for helping her friends rob from an elderly woman who had cashed a large check. Back to the call: He answered Social Security. Then explained my ssnuber had been used by criminals to rent cars and buy homes for the purpose of drug trafficking and money laundering. The story got more and more involved and the treat of arrest and the Federal Marshals had me totally scared to death. They knew everything about me where my money was deposited,all my credit cards, and had me convinced I was in so much trouble if I did not follow their instructions. looking back I see all the red flags, them telling me I was under surveillance and my phone tapped. They knew when I texted and what I basically said. It was so frightening. In order to protect my money I needed to transfer it to the DA investigating the case. I was so under siege that I did what they said. The call said Austin TX that number has been removed along with the voicemail message with the number to call back. It was a 512 area code. This person transferred me to Michael Gibson. I believe he was MEXICAN but was later told he is Indian. Michael is the worst of the worst kind of person. I did wire transfer money. I must say even as upset as I was the bank Manager did not ask questions. When I did not know the name of the recipient and kept returning to the text on my phone she did not ask any further questions. The man on the phone had the line open and was listening to everything reminding me not to say a word to her because they were trying to catch the person who gave out my info. Can not trust the bank, can not call family or husband until everything is taken care of. They were good and all the previous goings on had an impact and fit in nicely with what he said. I felt like I was doing the right thing until I was driving to the next bank I started feeling that sinking feeling in my stomach and started to shake and then tear up. The bank teller at Wells Fargo was very smart she handed me Kleenex and asked me what was going on was I alright. At that point I asked her to phone the police and sent her notes telling her what was happening. I left my phone with open line with my friend and the police officer talked to Michael Gibson. The officer came one Bank managers office and told me he hung up on him because he knew it was a fraud. The officer then proceeded to lecture me and talk to me as if I were an idiot (I felt like one but geez) where is the compassion. Gone. The lecture only made me feel worse. I’m $42000 down and he lectures. The wire was through Bank of America so Wells Fargo Mgr started calling to try to stop the transfer, call it back anything to help. At 4;45 pm no answer at the branch instead we were sent to a 800 number. That called ended with being on hold 45 minutes for the wire fraud Dept. Then I started calling as did my friends at 5;30pm being on hold for an hour and a half I hung up,and called my attorney friend who gave me the fraud HOTLINE number. What a joke it was the same 800 number. They did not have a hot line they had a slow as hell 800 line that receives all their calls even to the branches. What a horrible system. When I finally reached someone in the fraud Dept they were closing but she took my info and said someone would call me in 24 to 48 hours. Thanks for the quick response. Ridiculous. The following morning at the BOA I at least got someone to follow up. The wire was out in 20 minutes. I drove straight to the FBI. The agent I spoke with was so nice and kind. I can not explain how his words helped. He told me I was not the only one and this happens everyday. What made me different was I had all the info on the account the money was wired to. Today,we found I landed in another country. The agent sent me a link to a police report to file in that country. This at least makes me proactive in helping shut down these despicable awful jerks. I may never see a penny of that money but I’m slowly trying to forgive myself for falling for their psychological war fair. Do not blame yourself these guys are pros, trained very well and have teams to research you before they contact you.. I’m still getting over the emotional pain I feel, the pain in my chest and heart will take a while longer. The name he used Michael Gibson phone number 888-708-6070. The officers number 202-888-4806 he was the first person. Today he is still texting and calling saying I need to download a form fill it out for the Marshalls. So they can give me back my money. Don’t know their end game but don’t need to. I’ve been warned not to download anything.. The one thing I am doing is playing a little bit with him. I have written scores of texts letting him know what the rest of his life his families life etc will be, one of pain and suffering and sadness . His family will hate him for what he does just all that kind of stuff. Then I sent one telling him when he closed,his eyes he would hear my voice the fear and start to feel heavy. With any luck he will be haunted and will have a horrible life. A little psychological war stuff sent his way. Hope it helps. Don’t fall for social security calls call social security yourself. They are very helpful and very sweet. Suzi
September 02, 2018
Thank you
yours truly
September 06, 2018
410-309-5966 called said owed 33 thousand in back taxes..spoke with a indian/middle east accent
Atlanta, Texas
September 13, 2018
Caller Voice Mail Message from 430-562-1446 claims to be an agent from the Social Security Department stating your Social Security number has been shut down due to fraudulent activity.
September 14, 2018

In reply to by Atlanta, Texas

I received the same type of call from number: 240-303-2726, and Hispanic sounding agent and supervisor...
September 14, 2018
The calls start at 6AM! It's a male Pakistani voice or a female American that's recorded. The males are always US Government people, the female is a Medicare worker. I keep blocking and they just get new numbers. Its REALLY frustrating because you can't stop them! We've had our #for over 20 years. We don't want to change it, and we shouldn't have to! Here's their most recent #. They are using them over and over. 369-745-8546, 369-412-5365, 369-523-6568, 369-452-5652, 523-486-5214.
September 14, 2018
I was just scammed by an official sounding woman who called from the social security dept saying my ssn was being frozen and I had to call back immediately. I called back the next and was read a litany of criminal activity associated with my ssn and that two men would visit the next day about getting a new ssn assigned. I had to verify my ssn, address, car make... Then I asked to speak with the supervisor of the dept, and a Spanish guy who sounded like the brother of the guy I was talking with got on the line, and I called bs...
September 16, 2018
I get these calls all the time when I tell them I have not work in 20 yrs and if I go to prison I want it to be federal because they have better food and tv .
September 16, 2018
I don't get the phone calls I get all the spam emails from people claiming to be from FBI or other white house officials wanting to help in the delivery of my Millon's of dollars. I never respond I filed several complaints with their info to the FTC. Got one today from John Kelly. Look like there should be a way to block all this instead of it going to my spam. I can't help but read them they are funny
September 17, 2018
Got a call from 915-208-4693 saying their from the Social Security administration and I owe money, asking for people ssn and birthday, PLEASE don't fall for the bs
Malcolm Jr
September 17, 2018
Malcolm jr. from Ms. I powered up an old phone today that the charging port did not work on to try and retrieve some music files by moving them to an SD card. When the phone was on I noticed some un open files. Some normal and some from adult sites. Being sometime I was curious as to what was on them so when I opened 1 on the adult site. Instantly my phone was locked by an entity that identified itself as United States Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation. They told me that I had three days to pay $500 from the date of the notification. But there was no date on it. It also mentioned repay the fine and that's not right it would be pay the fine not repay it. And it's telling me to use vanilla one to pay this with prepaid card. It said after 3 days the fine will be tripled. In the past when I have visited some adult sites I have been warned of viruses infecting my phone and have to get a cleaner or sweeper to get rid of it. I have not used to this phone in close to a year maybe or over a year. It says not to pay by my debit card on vanilla one website because I can't submit my payment because my phone is locked. But it has my old phone locked. And I have a different email now. It really looks legitimate but if I have been hacked how easy is it to take photos from an inappropriate site and repost them to show me that they have evidence. Isn't that breaking the law themselves. They're not supposed to show sexually inappropriate acts by underage children. These sites that I visited declare that everyone on that site is 18 at least. I've never heard of anybody like the FBI using that form of payment. They also had a list of all of my phone contacts. If I was hacked how easy would that be to get . In one the FBI showed me photos of allegedly underage children in sexual acts? They have also threatened me was prison.
September 20, 2018
518-380-6400. received a robo voicemail regarding a "get back to them regarding case before taking legal action" I called 2x's before I received a person - he said there was a problem on my tax return and needed me to verify info- I told him I wasn't going to give him any info and he actually told me to shut my mouth when I interrupted him when I wanted to know his name.
September 24, 2018
I got a call today from 202-594-3156 stating that they were criminal investigations division from the IRS and if I didn’t pay back due taxes they were going to arrest me within an hour . When I asked him to prove that he was legitimate organization he hung up on me . I called back and got a female she said that they were from Brooklyn New York and that it was www.IRS .criminal investigations. Brooklyn. New . Then she hung up swearing at me. I called back again And got a man and he said do you love me Data ya da ya ya. Definitely a scam I reported it to the FTC but I probably shouldn’t of called back who knows with these guys could do . I gave out no personal information I figured they were going to fish so will I
September 25, 2018
I got the female voice robocall message. There is a lawsuit filed against me. Call 920-247-0936 to ask about your case number. I called them back, blocking my number. The woman was so clueless. She said she was at Social Security administration in Maryland. (really, the area code was for Wisconsin) I asked her for her number... She asked, What, my social security number? I said, no, the phone number where you are. She didn't know it. She hung up. I called back and left a voice mail.... this is a scam and I am going to do everything I can to get you arrested. You belong in jail. So annoying.
September 27, 2018
Ok, I’ve got a different situation going on. Please tell me how to verify if an email IS legitimate ...Yes, I’m NOT being asked for ANY money...The email included an attached (U.S. Dept. Of The Treasury “Certificate of Authenticity” with reference numbers, specific dates ( including an exact (1 year expiration date to claim/receive this money , also giving true dates and explaining true “Economy Crashing” details that first took place (from approximately 2007-2009,) briefly explaining the facts concerning all the fraudulent activities taken place within the international trading ,banking system, real estate loans,dishonest corporations .....(2010,2011-....),. This “Certificate” is also “government stamped with Dept. Of Treasury symbol and has 2 government official’s signatures on the bottom of it! So please tell me the best,quickest ,and /or easiest way to find out when or (if ever ) an email is legitimately sent from a US government offficial or department .
FTC Staff
September 27, 2018

In reply to by Alicia

That sounds like a scam. Some scammers pretend to offer people grants or free money from the government. The imposters use official sounding names, and put seals and symbols on their communications. They say you will get money and never have to repay it.

But then, they ask for your bank account number so they can deposit your "free money." Or they ask you to send money by wire transfer, or to buy a gift card to pay a "processing fee."

Don't give bank account information to someone you don't know. Don't send money, or buy a gift card to pay a fee for someone who promises to send you money.

September 28, 2018
Is there a list somewhere of these numbers? I think I got two of these...
October 01, 2018
I just got calked from a number in Californis impising as medicare employee. They wanted my id numbet please help me to report this number. Who di i call or text?
October 01, 2018
Someone called using this number, 619-378-1999, i believe they are trying to scam me. They wanted my medicare number.i hanged up. They have somr information if my old address and my nane. I wish i could report them.
October 03, 2018
This was new- I received an automated call saying they were from the SSA and there was a problem with my SS Number and I should call XXXXXXXXX. I notified the SSA about whether this was a legit call or someone phishing. After over 2 weeks, they responded as to was what to do when I lost my card. Not my question so I still don't know but am assuming it was just phishing.
October 07, 2018
I received a call saying that I owed back taxes for 4 yrs. I asked how much I owed which the lady would not tell me, So then I informed her that I have never worked a day in my life. So I wanted to know why I was behind in taxes when I never had to file for zero income. The rude lady had the nerve to hang up on me. I never got that kind of call again.
October 11, 2018
It started with Amanda asking for $200 Google play using phone # 360-549-9673. Then continued by Sany and James asking for another $500 Google play to get $9000 grant which is still less that what I loss since 2008. Another phone # 509-596-0659 claimed to be Wood Forest bank director asked me to pay $500 Googleplay to transfer my unclaimed compensation fund. My total googleplay loss is $1200.
October 25, 2018
In addition to my $1200 Google play loss, I lost $300 Itunes cards by phone # 202-524-1768. This is in response to the Nigerian Government that reminded me to claim my unclaimed $6.5 M which is the least compensation fund fund being offered why I tried to claim using the $300 iTunes cards. The same amount of fund is still being offered this week.