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Phone with text messages, gift card, money

Scammers pretending to be from the government tell convincing stories to steal your money or personal information. But now they’re taking a new, layered approach — and here are some clues to spot it.

The scammers first say they’re with a company and contact you about a routine problem, like suspicious charges on your Amazon account, a virus on your computer, or an account breach.

The story quickly escalates: They lie and say your name is involved in serious crimes and claim the court is about to seize the money in your bank account or retirement savings. (Also a lie.)

Next, they switch from being the bearer of bad news to acting like the hero. How? By (supposedly) connecting you to someone with the government to “help” you fix the problem.

But the person they transfer you to doesn’t work for the government. And they don’t help. They want to trick you into taking cash out of your bank or retirement account and giving it to someone.

Here’s what to know about how scammers try to deceive you:

  • Scammers try to convince you they’re with the government to gain your trust by faking the caller ID to make it look like a government agency is calling.
  • Scammers give you an employee ID or badge number or use the name of a real government employee.
  • Scammers send official-looking letters with seals and make up government agency names that sound real but aren’t.

Someone who works for the government won’t tell you to get cash or gold and give it to someone. They won’t tell you to pay with a gift card, wire transfer, payment app, or cryptocurrency. They won’t tell you to keep your conversation a secret or to lie to anyone. They won’t tell you to transfer money from your accounts to “protect” it or for any reason. Only scammers do those things.

Check out How To Avoid Imposter Scams for more advice. And to report an imposter scam to the FTC, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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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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  • 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.

Ali raza
June 14, 2024

Very nice ☺️

Tangie
June 14, 2024

They almost got me but thank GOD, HE intercepted their entire plan of wicked deceit.

Katherine
June 14, 2024

Thank you very much for this information. It’s just a few days late, but I was aware enough to drop the call and send do a block delete of the number. My gosh, this is ridiculous.

Anitra
June 14, 2024

I am so glad for this Company! Your information is allowing me to be alert at all times with your personal information and money. Unfortunately, I would have appreciated contacting your company years ago! I had no idea concerning all this valuable information needed for everyone.

Thank you ! Keep up the good job informing us about these tricky scams and fraudulent people in this world.

William
June 14, 2024

Thank you for the updates.

M.L. Stewart
June 14, 2024

Please give information on companies who charge late fees when it only takes 3 days to get to them, and you've paid by mail over a week prior.

Linda Kent
June 17, 2024

I had that happen to me but the company that the scammers took over was the one that was supposed to be protecting me. Norton/LifeLock. I have really comprehensive protections in place with Norton - so scary.

Pam
July 16, 2024

In reply to by Linda Kent

Oh my goodness. I have never heard of scammers taking over Norton/LifeLock. That is VERY scary! I recently bought a years protection from Norton/LifeLock. I think it's their best package. This is extremely scary news!

H Dowling
June 17, 2024

Thank you for sharing this important information.

Gregory McGregor
June 17, 2024

I wish I'd seen this before. I've never been a victim of scammers/thief's. I receive emails and texts daily and there have been some that almost had me convinced. Follow your instincts, trust yourself not the scammers.
Thanks for posting this. A PSA Awareness Ad would be a great way to inform so many. God Bless!

Barb
June 17, 2024

Thank you for this important advice on how to protect myself from scammers.

Mary Kritsonis
June 27, 2024

This is great information. The government imposter scam details exactly what happened to me. I am out $4500.00. Ironically, the person pretended to be from the FTC. I have already files a report with the FTC. I wish I was smarter and knew this information before, but this is my first time to go through this.

Pam
July 16, 2024

In reply to by Mary Kritsonis

I just had a very recent incident with someone pretending to be with the FTC. Unfortunately, I am out $80,000. I would think that the FBI would get involved for that amount of money, especially since the person pretending to be with the FTC is impersonating a government official and using a letter with the FTC logo on it.

Larilee Lynch Busby
July 08, 2024

Thank you for all the information you send. It's not only Informative but interesting, and it has helped keep me safe many times.

William
July 19, 2024

What should I do if a scammer called pretending to be Medicare and already had my full name , birthday, and street address? Soon as I verified they hung up.