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Who’s pretending to be the government now?

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You’ve gotten the calls: from Social Security. Or the IRS. Or Medicare. Or any number of other agencies. Except: as soon as the caller threatens you or demands that you pay them with a gift card or by wiring money, you know. It’s a scam. Even if caller ID tells you otherwise – that’s not the government calling.

The FTC’s latest Data Spotlight shows the surge in reports about government imposters. You know about the Social Security Administration (SSA) imposters who claim that your Social Security number has been linked to “criminal activity” and ask you to provide some information or money. (That’s a lie. The real SSA doesn’t work that way.) But those scammers are not alone: people are still telling the FTC that they’re getting calls from – and losing money to – scammers pretending to be the IRS, Medicare, a government grants group, or cops and the FBI.

Want to know more? Now there’s – dare we say – an awesome way for you to find out. And even create your own handout. You see the graphic here, but if you go to the dynamic, interactive version of the graphic, you can create a version that focuses on the time period or scam you’re most interested in.

Exploring the data can tell you, for example, that this year’s median losses to law enforcement imposters are the highest of all imposter scams (a whopping $3,000), and that 20% of the people who reported those scams told us they lost money. Those calls work because they’re scary. But now you can stay on top of the latest as data is updated every quarter. Or go back 5 years and see how things have changed.

And, of course, there are tips on how to spot government imposters scams. So if you want to share the handout you created with a few clicks, you’ll be able to tell people about not just the scope of the problem, but help them know what to do when they get the next call from the – ahem – government.


Tagged with: government, imposter, scam
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


I find it hard to believe that people are not understanding that NO agency would tell you to get gift cards to pay an alleged amount due. For the IRS, why won't they just say hold on, where is the nearest IRS Office and I will come over to discuss this "problem." Of course right there they would try to scare you more but you should know you are being scammed.

Thank you for sending this information. I received several of these call about me winning a grant and I hung up. However, my caller ID stated that the call was from Senator Sessions and the US Government. Thankfully, I subscribe to your email and am aware of how this all works. Thanks again.

Senator Sessions hasn't been a senator for a few years now, but I'm not surprised at these criminals using a household name that the general public might recognize! If you don't know the caller personally, don't answer and just let the call go to voicemail. DO NOT return calls to anyone who leaves a message from a government agency. Anything official will be mailed to your home (IRS audit, social security or Medicare notifications, unpaid fines, etc.).

I received a call from this number 301-985-8820 which came up on caller ID as Dept of State. It was a supposed duct cleaning company. I was shocked that they could finagle the caller ID to say it was State and therefore we answered the call. I hope someone will check this company out. Thanks.

Keep up to date by reading these FTC bulletins. You will learn that numbers reported by Caller ID are completely untrustworthy.
Therefore, no one can check out a company given only a bogus phone number.


I just received ANOTHER call from supposedly social Security
department....the call came from 213-212-3674...if you have the number why can't these people be prosecuted??? It should be traceable!!!

Because, unfortunately, caller ID can be spoofed. The call probably did NOT originate from the number on the caller ID.

I was called not long ago by someone claiming to be representing some law enforcement group & asked for money. When I asked the caller to repeat the name of the organization so I could write it down—the call was disconnected.

We're losing the internet!
I may receive multiple fraudulent calls or web messages daily
Some with foreign accents. Some posting origins from well known
firms. Some offering refunds or false reenrollment in a service.
Most are seeking access to computer controls.

I received a call from someone saying they are from social security I did not ansewer because I know social security don't call you unless u call them and request a call back I'm sorry I deleted the number if I get a call again I will save the number and report it.

reporting the number does little or nothing - it is a fake number like the caller ID is spoofed. THey can change the number to anything they want. You can block it, and they will change it and still call you. best not to answer.

I received a call and responded to the message they left on my voice mail.... I played along with it and asked them the correct spelling of their name, their agent number. Gave them a phony name and SS# 555-55-5555 and they proceeded to lookup the number and came back on the line to ask for verification. I gave it to them again and they checked it again. They said that something must be wrong with the name or the number. I told them that I knew they were trying to obtain confidential information and that I was calling the authorities to report their actions and the phone number. They promptly hung up.

Excellent to have...ALSO, now Supposed Verizon & other cell phone providers are calling with scams about your phone being locked A d needing to give sensitive information to "unlock your phone". It's another good scam. They're really getting clever. But I appreciate this one just for the informational purposes. I shall pass this on for sure...

This is great information. The one call I got from someone claiming to be the government claimed they were from the SSA. They were talking about my application for benefits. I told them I was already on SSD and then hung up.

I was contacted about a grant and that I was on the list to receive funds for compensation. They fooled me by using a friend's profile picture from Facebook and posing as them, communicating via messenger. I really thought it was my friend. Told me she had received money and that I should contact this person via text to receive mine. I was foolish enough to believe it was my friend. Fortunately, I didn't lose any money and didn't give them too much info, but they still got some common info, e.g. address, full name, phone number and such. When they said I needed to pay fees and taxes on the funds I was to receive, that's when I realized it must be a scam. I contacted my friend via telephone and verified that it wasn't her communicating with me after all. Rrrrrrr

I too annoyed Texas.went thru the same identical scam.Only I lost money thru a amazon card.

Thanks! For the e mail I got a call and gave them my SSN but I did everything I was suppose to do!No problems yet! But keep me updated!Thanks!

Never ever give out your ssn .

The same happened to me. I want to be sure I've done everything I'm supposed to do. But I'm not really sure of all that entails.

Nearly every day, I get a c all from a woman claiming to be a "Medicare advocate"! Her schitk is that she'll forward me to Medicare; BUT, all they want is to "give" me Medicare approved back or knee brace! They claim that I've requested information! I HAVEN"T! Most calls are sent from my local area code.
I've tried call blocking using my local telephone company to no avail! These type of calls need to stop!!!

Rod C,
We get the exact same Robot caller claiming to be from Medicare, at least 4 or 5 times a day. We have tried everything. The call says to punch 9 to be placed on the do not call list. That is a hoax and does nothing. We have punched 1 to talk to the advocate (real person) and as soon as we ask to be taken off the list they hang up! What a nuisance. The number they call from shows our local area code and the ID number keeps changing.

I once received a call (she left a message) from someone saying she was with the sheriff's department and I had not shown up for jury duty. I looked up the number and it was listed to an address in another town - not our local sheriff's department. I called back and left a message that I worked downtown and would be happy to meet her at the sheriff's department on my lunch hour the following day so we could straighten it all out. She never called back. Obviously she wasn't one of the smart ones who could change her caller ID information!

I now am getting them from Trump they use different names and the very same one I have been getting about debt. It would be wonderful not to be getting these all day long. I never answer them...ever. I never answer anything. It just things worse, if that is possible.

Would be nice if there were a fake card number people could give the scammers that, when used, resulted in their phone being flagged and them being busted.

Excellent idea!

I got a call from someone today claiming that he was the Social Security.

I got three of those today about 30 min. apart claiming that my SS numbers was being recalled "for some reasons". To find out more I had to call them at some Calif. number. The woman even gave a name "This is agent ... " She gave the same name each time . I don't call back. If SS wants to talk to me about a problem, with all the scams by phone, I hope they will find another way.

You've got a new voicemail from (646) 481-5953.
Transcript: Reason you have received this phone call from our department is to inform you that we just suspend your social security number because we found some suspicious activity. So if you want to know about this case, just press one. Thank you. This call is from the Department of Social Security Administration. The reason you have received this phone call from our department is to inform you that we just suspend your social security number because we found some suspicious activity. So if you want to know about this case, just press one. Thank you.

My trusting sister got scammed in Nebraska by someone who said they were calling for a priest she knows. They asked for I-tunes cards, and she is now out $1,500.00. Is there any way to trace something like this? She paid cash so that makes it more difficult.

During the shutdown, I received a call from the “treasury” and stated they were calling on a recorded line and challenged them as to how they got the number. They bypassed answering and stated they were issuing a warrant for my arrest so I laughed and said that I’ll go ahead and slap the cuffs on but finished my statement “we’ve got your location, expect a knock shortly”... the guy was yelling at me as I disconnected... Sometimes you just have to give it back to ‘em. I did report the call although there’s not much they can do since they ghost legitimate phone numbers.

My husband and have been receiving calls; however, now they have a person where the voice is disgusted and ask that you call a certain number and at the end they say, "have a nice day". This can be believable since it sounds like an older lady with a sweet voice to get you off track. No organization is mentioned now. Just to please call this number. The funny thing, they repeat the number twice.

I received a call from 6-464-822-5936 and did not answer it. The voicemail was a robotic call claiming to be "the Department of Social Security administration. They just suspended my ssn because they found some suspicious activity". The number is probably useless, but this scam needs more attention, especially informing the elderly.

I had the same call except the number was 806-909-8822

Lately I've been applying for home and auto loans. Using my personal information online. Yesterday i recieved a automated call several times, from social security administration. He blantly told me after i called him out that the ssa doesn't call people. Thats by far the most ignorant thing I've heard in a while.

I received 3 calls in one day from "US Government". I didn't answer the first two but decided to answer the third. Sure enough it had to do with my Social Security number which I hung up on without listening to the spiel. The number on caller id was 866-931-7075.

I received a call a little over a year ago saying it was the court calling and I had missed my court date but I could come now and rec. it. My niece took me to the court while they kept us on the phone line; but on the way, they said we should bring $310.00 in the form of a cash card to pay the court for missing the date. Just before arriving at the court parking lot, they asked to confirm the no. on the card. After giving it to them and arriving at the court parking lot, they hung up and cashed the card. I now hang up on any call like those you mention or any other threatening me.

There is no reason why the telecommunications companies allow spoofing of CallerID and Caller Name information. All calls, including cellular; VoIP, landline and satellite all have point of origination information. If it's from outside the U.S. do not send the information to called number. Telecom & Internet providers have the ability the deal with this. Just ask the FCC

I have received three calls claiming that they are from the Federal Government and if I don't take heed to them , actions against me will be taken!!!

I received a call from someone stating to be from social security stating that my number is about to be suspended. The number that comes up on my phone is 202-915-1185.

I don’t normally answer my phone if it’s a call from a number I don’t recognize; but once in a while I get fed up with it and answer. I know it’s not advisable to answer any of them, but when it turns out to be one of these fraudulent government agency calls the best way I’ve found to get rid of them is by asking repeatedly for proof of their government issued identification. I don’t have to hang up on them anymore, they hang up on me.

I just received a called from GSA 202-559-3400 and they did not leave a message but all you hear in the background is a lot of people talking and nothing but noise. I received this call a couple of months ago. I know it is nothing but a scam. they called July 2, 2019 at 12:18 PM. I am just letting people know that don't answer it.

I am a victim.
Many times they have called but I never gave them any information.
I blocked there calls several times but they still leave me a message, the police will come and get me.
They have a block on my social security.

I had a scam call from computer generated robo claiming to be Social Security and to call them . I did not scam # 757-448-2359

I only answer my cell phone. The people I know are in my phone book and have a certain ring tone. If it is the phones default I will not answer. Messages can be left and if it is a legitimate call I can return it immediately. If it is a robo call I report them to the FTC.

Sad thing is when someone actually did call me from SS from a non toll free number and no Id showed up)I actually called the SS office to make sure she was legit before I even talked to her. and that person was rather put off by the fact that I had the nerve to question them.

What ever happened to the power of the Do Not Call List? I’ve signed up multiple time for land line and my cell but to no avail. I get the scam calls almost every day. I find it hard to believe that in this day and age with the amazing advances of technology, that there isn’t a way to stop these calls. The calls are not just annoying but hurting people financially. I believe the senior population succumbs to scammers more. We need to protect them.

The Do Not Call Registry was created to stop sales calls from real companies. If your number is on the Registry and you still get calls, they are probably from scammers.

You can use call-blocking to stop calls from scammers. Read the FTC article about call blocking for mobile phones, land lines and phone that get service over the internet.

I constantly receive calls from someone saying they are from a government reward center. Offering me a free grant due to my excellent bill payment history. They even place noise in the background that should like a call center. I knew it was a scam thanks to your information.

Beware of driver support also I had them before at first they did update and chg $10.00 then a couple of weeks without telling you they were supposed to do updates but what you will find is deleted files and then reinstall the same then charging another $10..


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