Unwanted calls are annoying — but when a caller says they’re an FBI agent collecting on a legal judgment entered against you, it’s also scary. No matter how urgent and serious the call sounds, neither the judgment nor the agent are real. Like other impersonation scams, FBI imposters are after your money and personal information, and they might even threaten to arrest you unless you pay immediately. (Again: it’s not real.) Read on to learn to spot the scam.
Scammers will try to get you to act first and think later. If you get a call like this:
- Know that government agencies don’t call and demand money or personal information. Even if you owe money, real government representatives won’t call to threaten to arrest you, freeze your accounts, or take your property.
- Never pay anyone who tells you to pay with gift cards, cryptocurrency, or wire transfers. No government agency, including the FBI, demands payment that way. Anyone who does is a scammer. Always.
- Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers use technology to fake the number they call from. Never call back phone numbers from your caller ID or voicemails.
- Check with the FBI if you think the call or email is real. If you’re worried, contact one of the FBI field offices to check out the call.
Do you suspect an impersonation scam? Report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Even if you didn’t lose money, your information helps investigators working to stop these scams.
Read more about the FTC’s rulemaking proposal to combat impersonation scams.
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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Ok..very useful and good information for everyone. Thank you very much.
Why is there no respect for these important bodies in Government?
Two or three years ago I received a phone call from what I was told was the police department from my daughter's town, telling me that my grandson was under arrest for being in a car whose driver was also arrested for having drugs in his car, and that I could get him bailed if I gave them a gift card number. I hesitated, of course, but when they said I could speak to him, they put someone on the line that sounded just like my grandson. When he got on the line, he said, "Please don't tell my Mom or my Dad about this." When I asked him his dog's name, of course he couldn't tell me, so that confirmed my suspicions.
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