Have you ever received an ominous call or message from someone pretending to be a government official alleging that your information has been compromised or demanding a form of payment?
According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers lost more than $331 million dollars in government imposter scams in 2021. These scammers primarily use telephone calls, but have also been known to leverage email, text messages, social media, or the U.S. mail. Remain cautious of any contact from an alleged government agency regarding an unfamiliar debt or bill.
Keep in mind that real government officials will:
- Never threaten arrest or legal action against you unless you immediately send money;
- Never promise to increase your benefits or resolve your problem if you pay a fee or move your money into a protected account;
- Never require payment with gift cards, prepaid debit cards, wire transfer, internet currency, or cash by mail; and
- Never try to gain your trust by providing fake “documentation,” false “evidence,” or the name of a real government official.
If you receive a suspicious call from the Social Security Administration, you are encouraged to report it to the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General. Imposters posing as other government officials should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission.