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You’re minding your business and the phone rings. If you don’t screen and ignore it, you answer — and the caller says he’s Commissioner Noah Phillips from the FTC. (He’s not.) He gives you a badge number (it’s fake), says there’s a warrant for your arrest (there’s not), and demands that you pay up (nope).

Scammers — like the ones pretending to be Commissioner Phillips — then might demand access to your bank account, or tell you to pay them by loading money on gift cards, buying cryptocurrency, or using a money transfer service like MoneyGram or Western Union. They could say it’s a way to avoid jail, pay a fine, or settle up an unpaid Amazon balance. (It’s that fake Amazon balance story the scammer pretending to be Commissioner Phillips is using, at least as of yesterday.)

Here are three things to know about this scam:

  1. The FTC won’t call, email, text, or message you on social media to ask for money. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  2. The FTC will never call, email, text, or message you on social media to threaten you with arrest. In fact, no government agency will do that. But scammers will.
  3. Never pay anybody who contacts you out of the blue and tells you to pay. Don’t give them access to your bank account, don’t buy cryptocurrency or gift cards, don’t wire money, don’t send cash. Just don’t pay them. It’s a scam.

One more heads-up: Scammers are good at rolling with the punches. So let’s get ahead of them:  FTC Chair Lina Khan, Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, and Commissioner Christine Wilson ALSO will not call you to demand money. And they’ll never threaten you with arrest.

If you spot this scam, tell the FTC: ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

14 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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Cappy
April 11, 2022

The US has something like 330 million residents. Why would any FTC, or any other government big shot call to tell the average resident anything? It makes no sense.

They have other things they need to be doing.

Shirley Ann Harris
April 11, 2022

I NEVER answer a caller I do not recognize or a phone number.

Keith Sanderson
April 11, 2022

Thank you for email about scammers impersonating the head of the FTC. It seems like these cowardly scammers have nothing else better to do.

Lior
April 26, 2022

OK thanks 😊

Bobbie
April 26, 2022

I think calls we receive need ID, not number but legit company names we use every day, if companys want to do business with us, they should not mind in name caller ID. apparently nobody can do anything with these robos that is costing us money, companys can flip channells on them and Identify themselves legally thru FCC. Robos are not gonna be honest enough to ID themselves. we as customers miss important calls, by not answering numbers that we dont know.

Patrick logsdon
April 26, 2022

Bless you for helping consumers!

Gaylene
May 02, 2022

Would this be the same as a company contacting you online to update your credit card for automatic payments? I always thought I should call them.

Leoplodo Sales
April 26, 2022

Sad. Hope scams like that stop. Scary

Louis Dellaguzzo
April 11, 2022

I've found your alerts informative--and entertaining! Love the "rolling with the punches" ending.

Lou Dellaguzzo

D LYNK
April 26, 2022

These scammers also pretend to be Law Enforcement and FBI. We've had them use our Sheriff's name and several deputy names as well. People answer because scammers spoof a local number and they assume it's someone they know.

Kathleen
April 26, 2022

This imposter actually left his name etc., on my machine over a year ago. Initially, it scared me. He actually said they would come to my home and arrest me! I talked with my son. I was not aware that people do this and worse
we fall for it! Now, if I don't know the number, I do not answer. Better to be safe.

Thank you for articles like this to alert the public!

scambusters
May 02, 2022

Thank You for this information

Rafael Navarro
May 02, 2022

I bought a gift card for 150 dollars , but when i got home and i checked the balance the card had no funds, i have no shared any information that could harm the card, even so it seems that card was used. I want to FTC to help me resolve this 150 dollars that neither CVS or Ebay want to return it also that it is strange that i did not share any data they have emptied it... Please FTC contact me