Scammers often impersonate to be government officials in an attempt to coerce you into sending them money or to steal your personal information. They might promise lottery winnings if you pay “taxes” or other fees, or they might threaten you with arrest or a lawsuit if you don’t pay a supposed debt. The call may be purported to be from the Internal Revenue Service, a fake FBI agent, and even from individuals impersonating the Attorney General.
Regardless of their tactics, their goal is the same: to trick you into sending your hard earned money while unjustly enriching the fraudster.
Don’t do it. Federal and State government agencies and their employees don’t ask people to send money for prizes, unpaid loans, or back taxes nor are they permitted to ask you to wire money or add money to a prepaid debit card to pay for anything.
Examples of this type of scam include:
- Someone claiming to be a government official calls, claiming that you’ve won a federally supervised lottery or sweepstakes. They may say they’re from “the national consumer protection agency,” the non-existent National Sweepstakes Bureau, or even existing state and federal agencies, such as the Attorney General or the Federal Trade Commission.
- You might get a call or an official-looking letter that has your correct name, address and Social Security number. Often, fake debt collectors say they’re with a law firm or a government agency — for example, the FTC, the IRS or a sheriff’s office. Then, they threaten to arrest you or take you to court if you don’t pay on a debt you supposedly owe.
- In most cases, the call appears to be coming from a legitimate number.
- There’s no legitimate reason for a local, state, or federal agency to ask you to wire money or load a rechargeable money card as a way to pay back a debt.
- If you’re unsure whether the threat is legitimate, look up the official number for the government agency, office or employee, judges, etc. and contact the organization directly to inquire about the legitimacy of the call.
- Do not attempt to call any phone number back provided by a caller, always self-source any telephone number you wish to call as scammers will provide fake numbers in an attempt to steal your money.
- Most perpetrators of these scams reside in a location outside the reach of state and federal authorities, often times residing in locations outside the United States.
Variations on these scams include people claiming to be with the IRS collecting back taxes, or scammers posing as representatives of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) who target immigration applicants and petitioners.
If you believe you have received a fraudulent call or wish to report telemarketing fraud, file a report with the Colorado No Call Registry and the Federal Do Not Call.