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Government imposters bring bad business to small businesses

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You’ve started a new business and want to ensure you’re doing everything right. So, when people claiming to be with the government call you to say you’re violating the law, you may be inclined to do whatever they say to fix it…right?

Slow down. Government imposters are counting on that reaction — because that’s their business.

Today, the FTC asked a judge to stop D&S Marketing Solutions from allegedly tricking and intimidating small businesses into paying up to $200 for government regulation posters that are actually free from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).  The FTC says D&S telemarketers called newly registered small businesses, claiming to be with OSHA or another government agency. Using official-sounding names like the “Occupational Compliance and Safety Administration,” D&S allegedly told businesses they were violating federal law because they hadn’t purchased posters about occupational safety, first aid, labor law, or other topics. In fact, says the FTC’s complaint, D&S threatened businesses with fines or a shut-down unless they bought posters immediately. Many unsuspecting businesses complied, paying as much as $200 for the otherwise free posters. The FTC says D&S raked in more than $1.3 million from this scheme.

A few tips for avoiding government imposter scams:

  • Get it in writing. Government agencies typically contact you first via postal mail, rarely by phone or email.
  • Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can make a call seem like it’s coming from any area code and number on your caller ID.
  • If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.

Learn more about government imposters and file a complaint with the FTC if someone posing as the government tries to steal from your business.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money


Does Facebook count? I've had two different "pop-ups" and been literally blocked off site by "Facebook" on account I was "impersonating?" Not exactly sure why, but in order to get back on, Facebook, wants me to send them a photocopy of my drivers license, s.s.c, birth certificate, and two "letters" I've received in the mail, to prove I'm me. I feel discriminated against!

DO NOT GIVE OUT ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION. And get a good anti virus with firewall on your computer. most likely, your account got hacked. you might want to alert facebook support to the problem.

We get calls all the time from these "compliance" agencies. Some are harder sell than others. We print and update our posters from the government websites ourselves and then pay a printing service to laminate them. A lot less than $200!!!!!!!!!!

I want to thank the FTC for the information that I get from you. I have ask several of my friends to join in as we are older and your news letters help so much. Thank you so much for helping everyone out with the latest scams. A job well done. Thant you!

Here's an example of this type of scam:

Dear Business Owner: A complaint has been filed against your Business. Enclosed is a copy of the complaint which requires your response. You have 10 days to file a rebuttal if you so desire. You may view the complaint at the link below. complaint         Rebuttals should not exceed 25 pages and may refer to any additional documents or exhibits that are available on request. The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs cannot render legal advice nor can The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs represent individuals or intervene on their behalf in any civil or criminal matter. Please review the enclosed complaint. If filing a rebuttal please do so during the specified time frame.

Thank you for this info. Today I had my computer "grabbed" by an alert that said my security had been compromised" I went to a new window and searched that phone number and found out it was a scam. Reading your emails had made me more wary to these schemes.

Keep getting calls from some foreigners stated i qualify for a loan. They say they are from the government. They want my bank infomation and/or money for ups. Im not dumb!

Thank you always for your help and support.

I just received a phone call stating they were from the Gov't and they are going to give me $6700.00 grant. Since I live in MD, it's not tax free, I would have to go to either CVS or Walgreen to obtain. I said not interested and she got upset and yelled at me that I've wasted 3 min. of her time. I said lady you called me and interrupted my work time for a scam. She hung up. A couple of weeks ago got similar call from a different number and I told that guy if the IRS was going to give it, then they had my information to give it. He kept asking me if I wanted it deposited or sent via western union. I told him I wasn't giving him any personal information and he could send it to me for if he was legit from IRS that he had all the details. I finally called him out on a scam and he hung up.

On july 8 a person call me and he said he was from the government grant program and they was giving me 14,566 dollar for a grant if i purchase a itune card for $360 it was a scan I made a paper trail so hopefully I can get my money back

Thank you for sharing your experience.

If you’re not shopping at the iTunes store, you shouldn’t be paying with an iTunes gift card. Other payment methods scammers might ask for include Amazon gift cards, PayPal, reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit, or Vanilla, or by wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram.

If you get targeted by a scam like this, report it to the FTC at

For more information, please see the FTC article, Government Grant Scams.

Is Debt Alert from the Obama administration a legit company? Thay say that the Obama administaration wants to help you lower your student loan debt or forgive it. Is this true?

Some companies will tell you they can help with your student loan, but they want you to pay for the help. You can get a lot of information and help your self for free.

The US Department of Education has free information about how to get help with your federal student loans. The Department of Education information is free, and you can make a repayment plan for free. This page has information about repayment.

Also, the US Department of Education says that in some situations, you can have your federal student loan forgiven, canceled, or discharged. Find out whether you qualify due to your job, disability, the closure of your school, or other circumstances.

Just want to let other seniors out there know about a scam that is occuring here in Virginia. A call saying that the IRS is taking action against you - name that pops up on my phone: CHERYL MADAK and phone number:1-440-218-9520
This has to be someone trying to get personal information from seniors! Please don't respond or call the number - if the IRS really wanted to get in touch with you, they wouldn't call with a pre-recorded message like this. BEWARE!

Got calls from 202 area code looked it up an was told this area code is a scam. They ask about Microsoft account an say your account is wrong an need info. They also call from Medical Companies an offer free supplies braces an creme. Tks. For listening. Also phone hacker through chrome 3 way calling. Deleted all the info an then your phones usless an they have all ur contact numbers an proceed to to the same to them. An if u but a New phone they change your passwords so I can't get on. Again please check everything an don't be SCAMMED like we were. Hose scam like Ameriquest Mortgage took my house in 2005 an still nothing I can do about that.

I received a phone call yesterday about a grant. They didn't ask for any information just my name. They said I have to load 150 onto a iTunes card so they will know that it's me. They also said that I will get the money back as soon as I get the grant money which they said it will take ten minutes. I just need to know if this is any way a scam

This sounds like a scam. If you buy the card and tell someone the numbers on the card, they take control of the card. You will lose money.

If anyone tells you to buy iTunes cards to pay the IRS, qualify for a grant, get a loan or bail out a family member, say “No.” They’re trying to scam you. The only place to use an iTunes card is at the iTunes store, to buy online music, apps or books.

This FTC blog tells more about iTunes scams.

I signed up for webcite called and it says it's government grants but the repayments they want through western union or ach payments how can I protect myself if they have copies of my passport and I'd?

Here are some warning signs of identity theft. If you see warning signs that someone is using the information from your passport and ID, go to and report the theft. After you type in your information, you will get a list of what to do next.

This page lists the contact information for government agencies including the US Department of State. Report a lost of stolen passport to the US Department of State.

Did this company servgov end up being legit? MY friend had success but I'm skeptical. I can't find any reviews.

the company is a scam. Servgov.  org will pay your bills from a false account. They then ask you to pay 14% for processing fees thru a western union and to send it to someone in Jamaica within 3 days. That waythey get money out of you before the money is noticed by your lender, creditor, etc. You also get a returned check fee since the payment didn't clear. My thing is if you don't have the money to pay your past due bills what makes them think you can come up with 14% in a few days.

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