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Spot the pandemic scam: emergency broadband program impersonators

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Have you seen ads on social media that offer to “help” you sign up for a government program that will give you a “free” device and internet service in exchange for money or personal information? While there is a real government program to help people connect during the pandemic, there’s no payment required to enroll. That’s just a scam.

The real government program is called the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Aimed at helping households connect during the COVID-19 pandemic, it gives people a one-time discount to help them buy a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. The program also gives people monthly discounts for internet service. But it’s free to sign up for this program.

Government impersonators can look and sound like the real deal — using things like government names (in this case, the FCC) and government seals to get you to open your pockets or share your personal information. Here are some ways to thwart scammers’ attempts to impersonate the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program:

  • Only apply through the FCC and its listed providers. The only real way to sign up for the Emergency Broadband Benefits Program is at GetEmergencyBroadband.org. If another company says it can sign you up for this program, check first to see if they’re an approved provider.
  • Never pay to sign up to get benefits. The Emergency Broadband Benefit program is free to sign up for those who qualify.
  • Don’t give your financial or other personal information to someone who calls, texts, or emails and says they’re with the FCC. If you think a call or message could be real, stop. Call the Emergency Broadband Support Center at 1-833-511-0311 to check.

Did you pay a scammer? Act quickly to try to get your money back. If you think someone has gotten into your accounts or has your personal information, visit IdentityTheft.gov. There, you’ll get the steps to find out if your identity has been misused, and how to report and recover from identity theft.

Spotted this scam? Report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

This post was updated on October 13, 2021.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

This information is really needed for a lot of seniors, including me. I was scammed a year ago where there was a picture of a government employee, on what looked like an official site. It mentioned that I could get a grant. Well, I fill for it and lost a lot of money. The Deputy was trying to help me get my money back, which unfortunately, he tried but was unsuccessful.

I appreciate the email updates I receive. It would be even better if they were easily legible--printed using a dark black font. Right now, the font is light, and very difficult to read.

I have gotten this email twice now.how can you be sure its a scam from what your saying ?
It's the same as what you typed

Just so you know; I just tried signing up from the FTC scam notice on broad band impersonators from both of the REAL links according to this FTC notice. My security would not allow me to connect stating: That the "Site is not controlled by the FTC commission". I use the same security that many banks use, no, it's not free; so I'm not continuing to either site! FTC, get your act together!!!!

It's OK to click on and follow the links in FTC blogs. This blog links to the government program called the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. It's not the FTC's program, but we want you to know about it, so we put the information in a blog. 

When you clicked on the blue highlighted words in this blog to go to the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, you might have seen a message pop up on your computer screen saying, "You are about to visit a site that is not controlled by the FTC." The message helps you know that if you follow the link, you're leaving the FTC site, and going to a website the FTC wants you to know about, but doesn't control.  

I've seen this sent to my phone as a text but never responded. Something about it just didn't feel right...

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