New FTC Phone Scams
Consumers know the Federal Trade Commission as the government agency that tracks and prosecutes scammers and protects consumers. The agency was created in 1914 to protect consumers and prevent forced business monopolies.
The New Scams
Scammers have begun to use the name of the FTC as a way to target new victims. Thieves pose as representatives of the FTC and call random people, telling them that they’ve won prizes in a phony sweepstakes or lottery. They often give names and phone numbers of real agency workers. The scammers are convincing and always ask for personal information and money. The FTC is currently running a campaign to inform consumers to stop the scams. The agency never runs sweepstakes or other contests, nor do they ask for money. Their sole job is to investigate fraud and protect consumers.
Fake representatives may also tell you that you owe money to the government. Be aware of any caller that claims to be an employee or representative of the agency. The call is a scam and you should hang up immediately. The FTC has published tips on identifying these calls and how to avoid becoming a victim.
- You’ve won a prize in a sweepstakes or lottery but must send money to receive the prize.
- The caller offers to help recover money you’ve lost in a scam.
- You owe back taxes or other government fees or fines. These fees must be paid, or you will go to jail.
- Your bank account has been frozen, and you must pay a debt to unfreeze your assets.
What to Do if a Scammer Calls You
Hang up without responding. Do not press a button to be removed from a list or give any personal information. The caller may become threatening, but do not respond. You can block calls on your iPhone or Android to prevent that number from calling back. Callers use many different numbers to contact targets, so stay aware.
Notify local law enforcement if the caller makes any type of threats. Next, report the call at ftc.gov/complaint. Include the following information:
- Date and time of the call. Did the caller use your landline or cell phone number? Were there any text messages?
- Give the name of the agency the caller used.
- If a prize was offered, note the amount of the prize amount, how much money you were asked to send, and the requested payment method.
- List the caller’s phone number. Scammers can use internet phone numbers that cannot be traced or spoof a legitimate phone number that is linked to the government agency. While the numbers aren’t legitimate, law enforcement may be able to identify the caller by using a tracking system.
- Note any other details from the call. Be as specific as possible.
Getting Your Money Back
Unfortunately, the FTC is not able to fix individual consumer complaints, but they have suggestions on how you might be able to get your money back.