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Government imposter scams hit record level

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Close up of woman's hands with smartphone and unknown incoming phone call on it, fraud or scam schemes

July 17, 2019

When the phone rings and the caller claims to be with Social Security, Medicare or the IRS, what should you do?

Hang up!

That caller is a con artist who wants to steal your personal information or your money.

"These people sound very convincing," said Monica Vaca at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). "Their job is to make you feel fear, to make you feel panicked."

Government agencies, including Social Security, IRS, and Medicare, don't make the first contact over the phone. They send you a letter. And these agencies will never call and threaten you with a lawsuit or arrest if you don't make an immediate payment.

Complaints about government imposter scams are skyrocketing, reaching a record high in May, according to a new FTC report:

Since 2014, consumers have complained about imposter scams far more than any other type of fraud. Reported losses in the last five years total more than $450 million dollars.

So far this year, the FTC has received more than 200,000 complaints from people who were contacted by someone falsely claiming to be from the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service or another government entity.

In May alone, a record 46,600 complaints were filed.

Government imposters like to get paid with gift cards, but government agencies don't accept payment via iTunes or Google Play or any other gift card. That's the sure sign of a scam.

More Info: Get a call from the Social Security Administration? It's the latest government imposter scam

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