WASHINGTON (8/29/14)--Even if a phone's caller ID says "Federal Trade Commission" (FTC) or "Internal Revenue Service" and shows a Washington, D.C., area code, it could still be scammers, the FTC warned in a recent announcement. According to the FTC, scammers know how to display fake information on caller ID systems.
The FTC's warning states that scammers have been calling consumers, saying the caller is from the government and the consumer owes taxes or some other debt. The scammer tells them to put money on a prepaid debit card and then to tell the phony government representative the card number. Others scammers say there is a large sweepstakes prize from the FTC or some other agency, and that the money will be awarded after the consumer pays for shipping, taxes or some other expense.
The FTC's Consumer Information website has released information on how to spot potential scammers claiming to be from the government.
The website says all consumers should be aware of the following:
- Federal government agencies and employees don't ask people to send money for prizes or unpaid loans. The FTC doesn't supervise sweepstakes, and when the IRS contacts people about unpaid taxes, they usually do it by postal mail, not by phone;
- Federal government agencies and employees also don't ask people to wire money or use a prepaid debit card to pay for anything. Once a prepaid card is sent or a money transfer is made, the funds are gone; and
- Do not rely on caller ID. Scammers know how to rig it to show the wrong information. Scammers might have personal information about individuals before they call, so it should not be taken as a sign the caller is legitimate.
Use the resource link below to access the FTC's government impostor scams homepage.