Government imposters want to get to know you

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FTC want you to know about a scam in which callers posing as federal employees are trying to get or verify personal information. This is a government imposter scam.

Sometimes, the caller asks you to verify your name, and then just hangs up. Other times, he or she might ask for detailed information — like the last digits of your Social Security or bank account number. Imposters might say they need this information to help you or a family member. But their real reason is to steal from you or sell your information to other crooks.

Your caller ID might even read “HHS Tips” or “Federal Government” when they call. The phone number could have the “202” Washington, DC area code, the headquarters for many federal agencies. The phone number may even be for a real government agency. But don’t be fooled: Scammers know how to rig their caller IDs to show false information.

So how can you tell the caller is an imposter?

  • The federal government typically will contact you by U.S. Mail first, not by phone or email.
  • Federal agencies will not demand personal information like your Social Security Number or bank account number over the phone. Also, just because the caller knows details about you, doesn’t mean she is trustworthy.
  • The caller typically asks you to send money – often via wire transfer, by using a prepaid debit card, or maybe by sending you a fake check to cash. Federal agencies will not ask you to use any of these methods to send money for any reason.

…and what should you do?


Thank you for continuing to spread the warnings about these scams. Crooks are getting sneakier and smarter all the time. I wish there was a preventative measure in place which would definitely block callers from using false phone numbers on caller ID. There must be a way it could be done. Annonimity is the cause of all these scams. Without that ability the scammers would disappear.

I would like to know why I did not get a phone call ,when a ss person got my filing on ss, the took it and got a larger ss filing and gave it to some else, if I had not found it they would still be getting my money which I had filed for but did not get, but are still getting it. after $ years a scam Asked etc for help no help, I'm on file ,do not talk to any one

Well said - you have the right ideal for this problem.

Very informative. I will share scam alert.

New York. He said I had won a prize from Las Vegas, and that money was over 3 or 4 months ago, and many unscurpulous people was trying to steal it. So far, he has not asked me to send any monies in order to recieve my "funds." Although, since I am unable to drive, he wants me to give him a fax # to send me a message from the local FedEx office. I was scammed about 2 weeks ago with a similar action. If the Federal Reserve bank is holding 'my' funds in escrow until they reach me.. the right person! At this point I do not trust anyone.

I have had two calls stating they were with the IRS and the IRS legal team. Both told me there was a criminal lawsuit against me and that I was going to be arrested. The first used three phone numbers, one being local with my city's name. Both left messages that me or my attorney was to call back immediately or else. I returned the first call as I was unaware of this type scam and my husband said it sounded important. I hung up when I was told to go to Walmart and get a voucher. I did not return the call on the second scam. And my computer has been hacked. I believe I have a red flag against my name.

i received a call from someone who claimer they are from irs and i have back taxes and if nor paid tonight i will have there policy come to my house and take me to jail.

I am receiving calls from scam artist who claim my name has been pulled and i can receive a grant for 5000 dollars. they call using a Washington dc phone number calls are made all day with no massages left.

It is troubling that you hear the IRS would not contact you by phone or email, but the 1040 asks for both to be provided, so does NY. They should stop asking.

No email, but yes, we will call if you have an issue such as a missing return, balance due, or need a payment plan.

The first contact is by snail mail. Once contact has been established, you can expect the person(s) listed in the letter to contact you by phone. It is when you receive a call from the blue that you should be suspicious.


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