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Lots of people are having trouble sleeping, thanks to the pandemic and all the parts of our lives it’s affecting. And it doesn’t help when you get a call saying you owe the government money. Oh, and, they add, you’ll go to jail if you don’t pay up immediately. That’s a scam, and nothing to lose sleep over. For those who are a little more cut off from people than usual, these calls might feel more real and worrying than they are. If you know someone might be cut off from others right now, reach out to them to make sure they know these calls are scams.  

Here are some things you might share with them about government imposters.

First, plenty of people have spotted calls, texts, and emails from bogus government officials. In 2020, people reported losing more than $174 million to government imposter scams, with a median loss of $1,250.

Second, you can share a few ways to spot these scammers in the act:

  • Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers manipulate caller ID to look like the call is coming from an official government number. Look up the agency’s number yourself, if you’re concerned, and give them a call. But don’t use the number in caller ID.
  • Government agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Social Security Administration (SSA) won’t call, text, or email you out of the blue to demand payment right away.
  • Nobody legit will ever tell you to pay with gift cards, money transfers, or cryptocurrency.
  • Never share personal information with anyone who contacts you. If you’re worried, look up the government agency’s information yourself to check with them.

Sharing these tips might just help someone you care about sleep a little more soundly. And, of course, if you spot a scammer, talk about it, and then tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Each report helps protect your community.

This blog post was updated on March 5th, 2021.

51 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.

  • 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.

Robert Douglas…
March 03, 2021
Hello I been called so many times with that saying their been a lawsuit against my social security number every week telling me that their been a warrant set out for my arrest or a lawsuit against my ssn
preNASD
March 03, 2021

In reply to by Robert Douglas…

I have had the same experience over the last 3-4 weeks. This is only one type of the bogus calls I've received from the FTC.
FTC Staff
March 03, 2021

In reply to by preNASD

If someone calls and pretends to be from the FTC, please let us know. Report that to www.ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Thank you.

shirlb
March 03, 2021

In reply to by Robert Douglas…

I had a person imitating a cop telling me the same thing today. What will they think of next?
PSC/DJO
March 04, 2021

In reply to by Robert Douglas…

Did you answer the call? If you did, what did you say?
ShirlB
March 05, 2021

In reply to by PSC/DJO

I didn't answer it. I never answer any of them. I also never lose any sleep over it...I'm always up before that start calling.
mackmack
March 03, 2021
I've been getting email saying my bank account was hacked and is now frozen, or that I have no made a payment to my credit card in 15 months. Both of which are not true. I simply check my account. Delete the emails like those, I know what my spending habits are and how and when I pay on my bills. Wish there was a way I could send them an email back telling them they are stupid people.
Zach
March 03, 2021
We have heard numerous and repeated times from the FTC and other government agencies what WE should do when receiving such calls. However, the government has taken no action on what THEY shoud do about interrupting the acquisition of access to public utility infrastructures for illegal and illicit purposes., and allowing the acquisition of phone numbers they use. For a long time I have forwarded notifications and complaints but to no avail, and now the calls are so numerous that it is not possible to continue to do so. I have read that our politicians and government officials also receive such calls . When is this going to end.
Larissa Davila
March 03, 2021
Why don'y you have this one in Spanish, it is important to provide this information to the Spanish speaking community.
FTC Staff
March 08, 2021

In reply to by Larissa Davila

You can find articles about government imposters in Spanish at consumidor.ftc.gov.

nettynoo
March 03, 2021
It would be helpful to have these articles in a printable format for our residents at the retirement community where I work. Thank you.
FTC Staff
March 03, 2021

In reply to by nettynoo

The articles are formatted to print; if you click the print command on your computer, you can preview or print the article.

You can also copy the text and add some, or all, of it into a newsletter, email or other message of your own. All information from the FTC is in the public domain and free to use and share.  

We have information for scams that often affect older adults in our  Pass It On campaign, You can order free copies of the tip sheets you see online, or related bookmarks, to hand out. All our material is in English in Spanish and available at www.FTC.gov/Bulkorder. We have other print information about staying safe online, shopping for funerals, how to avoid identity theft and more.

Shank
March 03, 2021
I work for a newspaper in Lyon County, KS. I think this would be good information to publish in our paper. Is it okay that we publish this if we give you guys credit?
FTC Staff
March 04, 2021

In reply to by Shank

Yes, please share this information. FTC information is in the public domain and always free to share. Thanks for helping to protect people. 

Grandpaw buhao
March 03, 2021
An OGM that works: " Calls to this number are screened 24-7 so please leave any brief message at the sound of the tone" NO ans mach? Then say " Calls to this number are screened 24-7 so please leave any brief message NOW"
DonDmcinnes't …
March 04, 2021
It is so True!! Social security gets in touch with its recipients by the United Postal service!! They wont call they wont text!! The So Called National Disabilities is a Huge SCAM!! Dont answer your phone if you dont recognize the number!!
mackmack
March 05, 2021
I get call like this frequently and I just say, well, they know where I live, come and get me!
Kittez
March 05, 2021
I get these calls constantly. I report them to the FTC, but it feels like that goes into a black hole because the calls keep coming. Nomorobo worked like a charm, but Spectrum ditched them for "CallGuard" which is useless. There seems to be no end or help in sight.
FTC Staff
March 08, 2021

In reply to by Kittez

There are other call blocking options listed at www.FTC.gov/Calls.

Ninusmer
March 12, 2021

In reply to by FTC Staff

I did silent all the phone number which are not saved in my contacts, for this reason I don't see or hear when a call like this is happened. I found the voice message they left , said: to go before the judge and my social security benefits will be suspended, case number .....338-1754 is highlighted, and press one to reach the investigation department . This was one of 4 calls and voice messages they left. the phone number they used are : 870-558-5458 , 870-558-5459, 929-498-2367 and in every voice message they asked me to call them back on these phone numbers. I hope some of these thugs are apprehended.
FTC Staff
March 08, 2021

In reply to by Kittez

There are other call blocking options listed at www.FTC.gov/Calls.

Donaphine
March 05, 2021
ReportFraud.ftc.gov IS NOT A GOOD EMAIL ADDRESS!!!!!!
FTC Staff
March 05, 2021

In reply to by Donaphine

www.ReportFraud.ftc.gov is not an email addresss.

It is the FTC website where you can report fraud, scams and bad business practices.

Kikikwon
March 05, 2021
I received a voice mail message from the local sheriff's department saying there was a warrant out for my arrest because I didn't show up for jury duty. I knew it was a scam, and not just because a Google search showed that the caller's number was from another county. So I called back and got the voice mail, and left a message saying that I worked within walking distance of the sheriff's department and I would be happy to meet her there tomorrow so we could settle the matter. I did not hear back.
SouthPawPhilly
March 05, 2021
I recently received a robo call from an "officer" from Social Security stating that my Social Security Number was being used somewhere in the Southwest of the United States (I am in the midwest). I hung up on this call. I'm pretty sure that Social Security doesn't call its employees "officers." I also reported this call as fraud.
Ron D.
March 29, 2021

In reply to by SouthPawPhilly

Just got a call from the" Social Security office" (it was a automated voice ) saying my ss # was being used somewhere in west Texas and asked if I wanted to talk to the person in charge I hung up.
Woodley
March 05, 2021
Most surprising was when I got a call identified as my home (landline) phone number, as I was answering at that number.
Oscar
March 05, 2021
I get this call all the time on the house land line. One day they called every 10 minutes. I finally had to unplug the phone. Also, each time they called they used a different number. There should be something we can do about this.
Beth
March 05, 2021
I received a voice mail claiming to be from Social Security, saying that suspicious activity was noted on my account and that they were suspending my account.
Mike's wife
March 05, 2021
Remember we the phone rang and we raced to answer it. I'm at a point I rarely answer the phone. It isn't just the 800 numbers, it's local business names and numbers except it is a scammer. Do not call list is a joke. Some days I spend hours listing the calls. You will be arrested at work; your grandchild was arrested and needs money; credit card debt; car warranty; fundraiser for police, fire department etc; bank account has been hacked; you have excellent credit, we can combine your cards for a lower rate; police will knock on your door within the hour. Imagine how productive these people could be, if they got a legit job
HOPE
March 05, 2021
I’m in a mess. My social security number has been stolen, getting daily phone calls originated frequently from my own phone number threatening me to pay money otherwise...usually hang up before that. I filed complaints all over without any feed back, as I reported names, phone numbers, and full locations for some of those individuals but without knowing what’s going on. Please understand that consumers would appreciate it even more when they have direct meaningful input response for their specific complaint.
Pam B
March 05, 2021
I actually received a direct text message on Monday, telling me I needed to response back in regards to a vehicle warranty was expiring. And warned me not to drive my car or I would be arrested!.. Wow!.. Lol
Lainie
March 06, 2021
We get constant calls like this one. Annoying but we just ignore them when we realize they are just SCAM calls!
wild indian
March 06, 2021
It is against the law to impersonate a government worker, so why doesn't the government file charges on the people who make these calls. I have the list of numbers I have blocked, they can be traced.
JBH
March 08, 2021
I wish the federal government could do something about this once and for all. I am having to help an elderly parent deal with this on almost a daily basis and I am losing work productivity due to it and the phone company is of little help.
Rex King
March 08, 2021
PLEASE READ THIS INFORMATION, AND SHARE IT. Thanks. You may save one of your own loved ones much heartache and financial ruin. Bless all with common sense.
Harley’sLife86
March 09, 2021
I have been forced to give my info every time I call the bank to handle my account issues and to report issues I cannot get anyone to help me out other than tell me to go online. I have tried and tried to fix my problem but I got websites claiming to be trans union and other sites saying it’s gov websites but they are not secure and I got constant changing apps and settings on my phone no home Wi-Fi. I have reached out over and over and nothing. I have found proof of my school I went to harassing me using affiliated school and so on . I ask for a face to face approach to help me with the things I need help with and I am constantly being told to do it online but my online identity has been completely compromised and it is a problem I can’t fix myself need serious help fixing this problem and I have been trying to get my information fixed and nobody is truly helping me I have had some suspicions about this problem for a long time I have proof of some of this information but am so stress out I can’t hardly think straight half the time trying to do on my own had threats and all
FTC Staff
March 11, 2021

In reply to by Harley’sLife86

You can report identity theft and get online help to report and recover from identity theft at www.IdentityTheft.gov. When you report, you will create an FTC Identity Theft Report. You can use the Report when you send letters to credit bureaus and debt collectors and to get copies of business records related to identity theft. 

eva
March 10, 2021
The problem that we are having with the "social security " calls, which are coming two to three times a week, is that these people are using local numbers, even he numbers of our friends. That is why we answer the phone. We do not wish to cancel our landline. Help! I think that it should be illegal to sell phone numbers!
Susan
March 11, 2021
My mother got a call from 929-552-3537. Caller says his name is Officer Willets, US Federal department. Said that he needs her signature on a document. Says this call means she has been served. if she didn't call that number back immediately, then the sheriff was coming with a warrant for her arrest. Said that she needs to sign documents. They were even bringing the media with them!
KSE
March 17, 2021
Call received 3/17/21 saying my social security number will be suspended if I don’t talk to someone today. Charges of drug trafficking and money laundering will be entered against me for several thousand dollars.
badboy
March 18, 2021
so many scam story
Dannalopez
March 22, 2021
Someone messaged me on messanger saying they work for pandemic fema goverment agency and said they are doing offers of 100 to 1500 all we need to do is buy a 100 doller gift card of google play sent me some videos of people whho done it and his badge n id so i thought it was real he asked me for the google pin number on back of card so i gave him it and never recieved no money.
Sharolyn B
March 22, 2021
I just got the same call from the following phone number (202) 982-4721.
Kate
March 31, 2021
My elderly mom with early dementia keeps falling for calls saying her social security has been breached. She believes them no matter how many times I try to educate her.
Raider
April 09, 2021
I am getting voice mails threatening legal action against me for illegal activity in GA and my number will be suspended for my safety.
Gun2Mage
June 07, 2021
For the past week I recieved an automated call saying that my SSN has been compromised. Kentucky numbers.
MelS
July 08, 2021
Continue to get calls, either 'Social Security suspended' or a automated voice saying "law enforcement of Federal Reserve" and arrest warrant issued. Always want me to press 1 to speak to officer or official, I just disconnect. But how many people are getting these and don't understand or are afraid. Would l like to be a part of stopping this.
Djinn
July 29, 2021
I've been getting calls from a automated robo talking saying the fbi and such has a case against me saying I need to contact the right person or action will be taken. This is whybthing like reverse number look up and such should be free and not charging us real people money to be able to feel safe about who is actually calling us
mkaehc
August 19, 2021
I had a phone call impersonating a Social Security Officer that my SS number had been linked to a warrant of my arrest with money laundering and drugs. Said they had got money from 3 or 4 other banks in a large sum. Also, he gave me a number that a investigator would be calling me. He stayed on the line with me til this number contacted me. Then once the officer was on the line, he told me that I needed to verify all of my credentials and was very adament about me staying on the line with him for at least 45 min to an hour. He said that my SSN would be suspended and in a day or so, two social security officers would present me with a new number. I finally just hung up and then they proceeded to call me time and time again, from 4 different states. I'm glad that I didn't give any of my personal bank act numbers, credit card numbers and etc. However, is what was off about the whole thing was they said it was on a recorded line and not to give any act information over the call.