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

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.

Please note..I have had 3-5 scams run on me. I thank God for given me a felling inside that something is not right. I'm glad I did not give no info out, but they do know my address & phone number. I now have a blocker on it.They seem to be Indian, I traced the number once and it came from England.The last scam was a 9,000 dollor Grant from the government, by western Union, they wanted me to send them 250 to get the check. The one befor that was a check for $2,836.25 to be a mystery diners& shoppers.. That in there words.. I still have all the papers ,it looks legit but I made calls and found out nothing was real.When in doubt, check it out. Thats something everyone should remember. Thanx Robin

I got the same call about a Government Grant from two different guys on the same day. The second guy said for me to call back with the info he provided and disregard the the first contact... Talk about the scammer trying to scam the scammer

thank you for staying in contact, I did not get any money returned to me, I learned a lesson. I am Deaf so all my info is on line ,no phones. if they are ever found I would like to know. Thank You.

Elizibeth Warrens name was used on mine,free money , nothing is free, so late we learn to wise up. thanks .


Thank you this is very helpful

Thank you for keeping us updated and I hope this email Is legit sorry but today I don't know what is legit and not I do know about the little lock on safe sites but just a matter of time before they figure a way around that I have gotten numerous calls from 202 and I won't answer my home phone if it's important they will leave a message and thanks to the updates we are staying safe from hackers and scam artist

I paid a local computer repair company that I've done business w/before and who help me for a reasonable price. The man who owns it says you cannot fully trust a website even when it says "https" on it. Somehow hackers have found a way to get around that. Who knew? Plus, right now I don't have the $ to buy a new computer, so my computer has Microsoft XP on it; and our public library's computers have Microsoft Vista on them. Neither of those operating systems are supported by Microsoft anymore, so guess what? Big-time risk of being scammed or having ID theft. I live in an apt. complex for disabled/elderly (age 62 and over). These people get scammed regularly, no matter what the property mgr. puts in our monthly newsletter to try to alert others to the most recent scams going around. They often get scammed by mail, as well.

The IRS *will* contact you by phone, but never email. If you owe, if you write, they will call to see if they can resolve your issue more quickly than by mail. In order to verify they have reached the correct person and not give a stranger your personal information, they will ask to verify your SSN, address, birthdate. They will not demand funds or threaten with local law enforcement.
I should know; I've worked there for years and call all of the time.

I ordered something online supposed to be free just PAY S & H Now they have gained access to my bank account I çalled my bank and had my card shut down but the very next day there was another transaction made they also had my savings account shut completely down because of a large sum of money they was trying to deposit to gain access to my checking too I just pray all these frauds are caught!!!

I learned the hard way over 5 years ago, that a "free" item that requires payment for shipping and handling is actually a devious marketing scheme to add people to marketing lists.

The free item is seldom worth much, and the fine print for putting you on a monthly supply of the free item is what the ad is really all about.

If you were using a credit card, I don't understand how the company could access your savings or checking account. Those numbers are not associated with your credit card number.

One way around that is to open a 2nd checking account and keep a VERY low balance in it - like only a dollar or two. When setting up the account, make sure to de-select automatic insufficient funds protection. Have the bank give you a debit card for the account.

Now, when dealing with an unknown or untrusted vendor online, first transfer the exact sales amount into the 2nd account, and give them the card number for that account. After they make the agreed-upon withdrawal, your balance will be back to a dollar or so, and any further attempts to make charges to the account will be denied due to insufficient funds.

I've had so many scams in the last few years that I don't know whether in conning or going, seems like 2 or 3a day, to the point I swear to God I'm losing it. There's bankruptcy, credit cards, lands 2, reverse mortgage. I'm in dire need of some help and an attorney but don't have a clue where to begin, I'm too the breaking point

If you want to find a lawyer, you can use this state-by-state list from the American Bar Association or visit this site from the State Bar Associations.

Please don't answer I am off and I made my boyfriend call the Indian guy back and now we can't call the number it's gone. He threatened my boy friend that he was going jail I freaked out!! And he went off on them twice the guy didn't want to talk to my boyfriend because he said he was mean! Thank God I have a smart man becareful

Thanks information me,I am just alert

I have someone is calling me right now from California. They originally wanted to give me a loan of $2,000 to help me get a down payment on my car. With my credit for I didn't qualify so they want to deposit $2,000 into my account and want me to immediately return it. They are saying this will up my credit score because they will report it and say this loan was paid back in full. This is supposed to up my credit. I will qualify for a personal loan. He appears to be from Pakistan or somewhere like that. He says this will help me with my credit report so I can qualify for a loan of $2,000. I'm not comfortable with the transaction at all I would love to know if this is legitimate or not because I'm desperate need for a vehicle. My husband passed away last March the 2016 and I can't get a loan because we have to try to save his life and it demolish my credit. I've been trying to get grants government loans everything and no one will help me. So I don't know if they saw my desperation and somewhere on my email and are using this to hurt me even more or not. It sucks being in a situation like this when there's nobody to do anything for you to help you. I am on medical disability and I'm a Widow plus I'm a senior citizen. I don't know if they're true or not I just have not had ever an experience like this. I I don't want to be scammed again in this just smells like it and taste and feels like it in my spirit. The phone number he is using is+1 818-287-6231. Is there a way to verify this #?? They are saying it's a credit union in California.

This sounds very strange, and risky too.

If someone you don't know  wants to know your bank account number don't tell him. He might say he's going to give you money, but once you tell him your bank account number, he can take your money.

Also, some scammers use people (and their bank accounts) to move stolen money. The scammer convinces a person to accept a deposit, and then transfer the money quickly to someone else. If you get involved in a scam like that, you could lose money and personal information, and get into legal trouble.

The ElderCare Locator is a government-funded website. It has lists of local programs that offer help with finances, home repairs, housing, transportation and other topics for older adults. You can also do an online chat with a representative and ask about help in your area.

Don't deal w/these blood suckers! Scammers will pass on the name of someone who has already been victimized so that a fellow scammer, who pays for their personal information, can scam them again and again! I was in your position (except never married, so not a widow, and I have no kids). I turned to several sources in my community, first of all, my church. There is also a new organization that holds fundraisers so that they can loan amounts like you need to get a car w/o charging the person interest. Our church has what they call the Good Neighbor Fund. Nobody knows who got the $. The need is set before Pastor and the committee that decides if it's a legit need and whether or not to give the person the $. Some food shelves will allow you to get food and personal items (toilet paper, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.) even though you don't meet the income requirements. This happens when people still have jobs, but their hours have been cut back so severely that they don't have enough $ to pay for necessities. And yes, they help widows. We also have a local Ministerial Association. Is there a community food bank or, as ours is called, a Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) office? Is there a younger person you can trust who could go online and set up a "Go Fund Me" page for you on the internet? People use this for medical needs, or when someone dies and they don't have the $ to bury them with; or other situations, like your situation. Even if you don't have a church, can you consult w/the pastor or the priest of a local church and see if they know anyone who can help you? Secondly - looks to me like that +1 phone number is an international number, not one from the United States!! Beware! You can always Google a phone number and ask as you Google, "Where is phone area code and phone number" (and then enter the number)from? But your call sounds like a scam to me!! Why would some credit union in CA need to call you to drum up business? My mom is 95 years old, and she gets some of this garbage, too. They fooled her over the phone into saying my dad is deceased (true), because they claimed they were arranging for a high school class reunion!! I said, "Mom, how many class reunions are usually held for people who would be 92 years old now?" They sent her these postcards twice in one week, so she responded because it seemed "urgent." I said, "Mom, once they know he's dead, they can take out loans, credit cards, and God knows what else in his name!" She is incapable of understanding how ID theft works; and we live 3 and 4 hours away from her, respectively. And she is in assisted living, to boot! But scammers call the residents to try to scam them all the time. Good luck w/your situation. I'll pray for you.

The "deposit" they make will turn out to be bogus and you will lose $2,000.

The key to this scam is speed. They'll insist you IMMEDIATELY send back the 'deposit' because any delay risks the bank discovering the fraud.

Ive been getting calls where i answer and no one says anything. Im about to start answering the phone and not saying helo at all..if it is a real person they will speak up. Dont answer any call that is unfamiliar if its important they will leave a message. Thank youguys for sharing your experiences and i hope more people report their experiences to help save others from the same frustration. Its truely disgusting for someone to take money from hardbworking people. These people get paid tremendously to lie and ruin lives. Identity theft is not something light, some people never recover from it. This just goes to show what happens when the government makes us all into a number.


I got two calls today. The last one said it was from Medicare. I didn't answer, of course. I know that they don't call and also it was after 5:00 pm. I feel very sorry for the people who get scammed. I wish there was something that could be done to stop it. I know FTC is doing all it can, but there are so many out there. New ones pop-up all the time. I will check the # that called me but I know it was just another scam. It should be illegal for people to put wrong #'s and names on their phones and to call people. It probably will get worse before it gets better.

Isn't it sad that we can't even answer our phones any more? Why is the DO NOT CALL list not working? I think because they are using internet based calls that are impossible to track. In the last year we have had about 5 scams including the IRS, Microsoft, a few "you've won" calls and my mom in law was even threatened if she didn't comply by getting info from Western Union. Phone companies are helpless as is law enforcement. We need to find a way to make that stop.

I wonder if a fake bank verification department can also be used for this kind of scam?

Better yet, give them the phone number of your local Police or Sheriff's office.

you put your numbers on the federal no call list but this doesn't stop the calls the FTC should sue the phone companys for giving these creaps phones since we have computers it has opened the door to thieves

I do not think I will report a scam again, you get more help from.give me a answer to this

Thank you so much for alerting me to these issues. .

I use the website
It uses a database that uses the contributions of all it's members. If I get a crank call, I enter the information in their database. Then, when any of the other members get a call from that number, it is blocked. I have been using it for a couple of years, and it works extremely well.

NoMoRobo has been doing a great job on my land line for the last couple years, but once in a while there is a spurt of of hang-up calls anyway.

I use caller-ID to call these numbers back and have found out they are usually businesses trying to legitimately trying to reach a customer that had my phone number in the past or they were accidentally given my phone number thru no fault of their own.

In each case, I have easily convinced the business to look up the account by phone number and remove it from their data base. My point here, is not all the multiple hang-up calls are total bad guys, although I think it would be better if the business would leave a short message saying they are trying to reach person A for X reason.

I have had several calls claiming to be IRS Agents. I know for a fact the IRS will reach you by mail. I had this to happen to me in 2010. I was audited and I was cotacted by mail not Phone.

I had a phone call "your income tax return is incloplete I can complete it for you if you send 28oo.oo dollars by 3 pm." I have not done my incomtax for this yer yet!!!!!

I have been getting calls from different numbers since 03/06/2017. These numbers include +199999988, (206)209-1664, (360)036-8544. They told me that I qualified for some federal grant due to low income and such things. I am a student and I knew that this was a scam as I have had similar experiences in the past where I knew something was fishy. I kept listening to them for a while just to see what is it that they want from me, but I decided not to waste my time and hung up. I reported it here. They sounded Chinese or some Southeast Asian accent. They say some American name and claim to be from the Federal Government. I told one that I know this is a scam and that person hung up. Another one called today and I told him that I know this is a scam and I going to go ahead and report you. He kept talking and saying how this is not a scam. People in these foreign countries think that in America money grows on trees and sadly, they usually target the most vulnerable. They don't know how hard people have to work here to keep going. It saddens me to know so many people become victims of these scams who are already going through so much. Please be careful. Never give your personal identifying informaiton or bank information to anyone.

I was scammed on March 8, 2017 by people who posed as the IRS. I blindly followed orders and gave them money. They wiped me out. I have $10.96 left. And there are others who keep calling me. I learned the hard way. It will take a long, long time to recover my losses. I have no money to pay my bills. I am alone. So all of you out there, please be careful.

I have been receiving massages from them but never take them serious

I've got identity theft from EVERY direction, as well as my husband, and my parents. I have a junk car that is pushing me into insanity and I need help!! I need a fantastic attorney for a lemon law issue, 1 for construction and economic development and rural development as well as multifamily housing, contractor grants and loans, banking and farm programs. The attorney I need, has to be well rounded because as well as those things, I have a TON of others!!please please someone help me

I have different scams I have been hit with: #1.- I donate to a charity every month by sending them a check. Someone supposedly from that charity called me on my phone and asked me to please make my donations by a credit card, that they are asking all donators to do so because it will streamline their bookkeeping or some other reason. Bottom line -they want your charge account number to buy themselves goodies that you pay for. Didn't fall for it. #2. -phone call- I won PCH award of 3 million, this guy was so convincing! (but he had a Indian accent)also I won a new car, but I had to pay so much money to show good faith and the money would be used to transport the new car to my home the next morning...Sure it would, didn't bite the hook but this person knew his stuff and was so convincing!
Scammers are getting smarter & more creative in their scams. They are also doing a heck of a lot more "prep-work" in practicing their scams and some are well prepared to fool you if you ask questions. Now I ask the full name of the person and their company on the phone calls. Most hang up after this, but if they persist, I ask for their phone number to call them back.(Then they certainly hang up).
For the month of March, so far, I get 3-4 scam calls a day. What is especially weird about this is that they are all from the same
"scam company" They say- hello, this is " Visa- Mastercard Services" and because you have such a good history of payments on your credit card, we are calling to reduce your credit card interest rates,.......Yeah! right!
BTW, did I mention, I'm on the "Do Not Call Registry"
That's a joke! I have a print out of at least 10 phony caller ID's a day. How can these people get so many phone numbers to call from. One of the numbers even said it was from a Doctor, a MD!
These phone scams are annoying and a huge waste of my time.

There are two numbers to look out for trying to scam saying they are from the IRS 1-575-268-3518 and 1-206-388-4903. When they asked me for money I said, let's three way with local Police Office, they hung up! LOL!

Another phone # to beware of is 210-401-0895 looked up the info on the #, it shows it's in San Antonio. However, they can still be over seas & show whatever area they want. My call was from a man of Indian descent, claiming to be IRS, I knew right away it was not, he could barely speak English. He was very persistent, said I owed $$$ , & of course I am being sued & or arrested. I called him back several times, because I figure that if I keep this creep on the phone talking to me, he won't be busy at that time scamming someone who doesn't know any better. I finally lost it with him (after he told me I owe him $75,000!!) & told him what to do with himself. Called Michigan st police & reported it, they get many complaints everyday from this same phone #. Come on people, just BEWARE.

Phone 240-293-4764 computer generated voice said IRS has a warrant out for your arrest. Message said call 240-293-4764 back.

Thurston County Sheriff phone scam. Received message on my machine this morning (not blocked by NoMoRobo) from 360-768-0552 (Google says this is Vancouver, WA #) saying the Thurston County Sheriff (TCS) "needs to discuss the results as soon as possible" of a court case (warrants) and I need to "make contact with all due haste" with TCS. The called ID showed 360-768-0552, and that's the same number the caller said to call back on, which I did. Please note, that I consider myself a scam expert and engage scammers intentionally to report them to the FTC. I called 360-768-0552 and left my own land line number they called on. The voice message on 360-768-0552 said it was the Thurston County Sheriff . I was called back in 5 minutes. I asked the person answering what the main TCS number was, and they answered correctly. The story line was that Darlene K       had been in court yesterday and had a warrant out against her. The voices and words used sounded very professional and were not foreign, like most other scammers I have engaged with. The scammer hung up before telling me what he wanted to scam me out of. Two red flags here: the 360-768-0552 number is from Vancouver, WA (over an hour South of here) and I know that law enforcement does not call people with warrants. I talked to my local police department, and they confirmed that this scam call had been going around my county frequently.


Question for Moderator:

How in mentioning the county the scam is involved in and I live in considered too personal?

I did NOT include my address. I referenced two counties and the phone number the scammer used in place of the local sheriff's office.

Yes I have read you commenting rules:
comments that contain personal information, like home addresses

Comments submitted to this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personal information.

The scammer I talked to was very unusual in that he was very professional sounding in words and accent, which made this scammer more dangerous than the India scammers.

Indian accent man stated that I had been randomly selected for a $40,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services. When I asked for a phone number to call him back, he hung up. Someone else who sounded very similar called 5 seconds later. I demanded I speak to this supervisor since he told me "that this is NOT a scam and he worked for the federal government". He transferred me to "Paul" who told me that I was going to be in trouble now. When I asked how exactly I would be in trouble-- they couldn't tell me exactly how. They warned me multiple times that the call was being recorded as a threat.... They have been calling 10 times a day for the past 7 days. Enough is enough!!

I was called this morning about a grant. He said I would be getting $14,566 for a grant and I would not have to pay anything back. He wanted my bank no. so I gave him a fake no. He wanted me to go to a Walgreens and get a NIH card and then go to an ATM and put $388 into the card and wait 15 minutes and I would have my $14,566 in my bank account.I asked him what the $388 was for and he told me processing fees. That's when I hung up on him. He called me back and left a voicemail saying he is going to take the $388 out of my bank. I thought good luck with that. He said his name is Richard Johnson and he is the senior grant officer. His badge number is DM8463 and the phone no. is 202-871-0481.

I never answer calls that I don't know! It seems they are all scams or they want to sell me a medical alert system, back brace, weight loss program, etc. (They leave messages on my voice mail!) I did answer one call who I thought was from my electric company because the caller id said Info Elect. But it was from Elections/ electoral doing a survey! I only answered "no" to one question and hung up! And it was before 8 a.m. when they called! And I still get calls from them! I also get calls from Charities but I don't answer! Some of these calls are also scams! I'll look them up on google or Charity Navigator. And some scams claim they are from churches, ministries or other charities.

I don't reply to email trash, so i don't get got by them. I have received some requests for help from friends that have been hacked, these are also obvious... he lates come from the HMS Inland Revenue in England what morins... I found a couple of years ago when i got calls by phone that to them time is money, so i had them repeat the information or had my pen run out of ink, or said i was not sure how to spell something... the longer i drew them out and kept them on the phone the less likely they were to call back... It is kinda of fun to keep them on for 30 mins +.... this just irkes them to death...

I agree that the do not call lists DO NOT work. I think the scammers get the numbers from them. Since 8 am this morning I have had 6 calls that are scammers. Numbers from 318,201,202,315.318, and 312. I have even told the take my name off the list and one SOB actually stated then well keep your money.

I pretty much know that government agencies don't contact you any other way. Either they will send you a certified letter or show up at your place in person should you owe them anything or be found of some federal crime. If any of these scammers call you impersonating them, you should probably ask them why they haven't sent anything in the mail about this. Should they get defensive or fail to go in detail, it's most likely that you don't owe them anything. Also, even though the IRS does have an official phone number, they make it clear that they don't cold call anyone for anything and that everyone usually calls them first just like tech support.

I have been receiving calls on my cell phone and the message was that this person was a county process server in my county and that he would be coming to my place of residence the next day to serve me summons, i ignored it because a soon as i heard the message i googled the name he gave and process servers in my county and nothing came up, but what i DID find out that where i live the sheriffs dept is the one that serves people. A couple days later my fiances mother gets the same call two times on her answering machine and contacted me right away freaking out thinking it was real she is a senior citizen and has alot of health issues and this would send her into such a panic she would get sick i tried telling her that its a scam and not to worry but she thought I was lying to her so she wouldnt freak out. These PPL clled her again yesterday and told her that because I never responded that they have entered a default judgment against me, so i decided to call and find out what was going on and when i asked when this court date was he said well there isnt a date set once you get served then they will set the date and I told him that make absolutely no sense, he proceeds to tell me that the federal gov't is the ones " coming after me" for a bank account I open and withdrew a substantial amount of money and never "repaid" he said the amount i overdrew was 1,120 and that was back in 2008 so now i owe 3,012.13 , i knew right then this was a poorly executed scam because I never had a bank account at the bank he claimed i got angry an called him a few choice names and hung up the number is 877-567-7083 be careful these ppl sounded VERY convincing as they had my soon to be mother in law in a panic.....i hope they are caught an sent to prison for a very long time!!! It is against the law to claim that you are working on behalf of the federal gov't is it not?? What troubles me is that this pos had my ss number and address!!! I don't feel safe anymore!!!

Got call from area code 202, the man calling says he is from Medicare health source. I said wrong number and hung up.

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