anonymous without a face uses a mobile phoneFebruary 14, 2020

How To Recognize Government And Bank Imposter Scams

In the last couple of years, there has been a growing number of government and bank imposter scams that have cheated many people out of their hard-earned money. The reason these scams have become so successful is that people are not used to questioning any government or bank requests. Scammers realized that it is easy to trick people when they pose as government and bank representatives and now they are coming up with more and more elaborate scams that are not always easy to differentiate from official requests. Here is how to recognize government and bank imposters and avoid falling victim to their scams. 

The Most Common Government Scams

Scammers often call pretending to be government agents informing you that you are behind with your payments or that you owe a debt to the IRS, followed by a request for an immediate wire transfer. What you have to remember is that no government agency collects payments via wire transfer or rechargeable prepaid cards. Moreover, these types of notifications are always sent through an email. Here are examples of some of the most common scams that involve impersonating government officials.

1. Debt Collection Scam

At some point, you may receive a call from a law firm or a government agency like the IRS threatening you with jail time if you do not pay a debt you owe. The person on the phone will also inform you that you can settle your debt by wiring the money or loading it on a card. What you should do is write down the name given to you by the person who called and call the government agency yourself to confirm the story. Under no circumstances should you wire the money before making sure that the request is legitimate. 

2. Lottery Scam

With this scam, you will receive a call from a government official informing you that you won the lottery. The scammer will claim that they are calling from the FTC or the “National Sweepstakes Bureau,” which is not a real government agency. The caller will also tell you that in order for you to collect the prize, you have to pay a fee in advance – and you have to pay it now or you will be unable to get your prize. In reality, if you win a legitimate sweepstake, you never have to pay any fee in order to collect your prize.

3. Social Security Scam

In this case, scammers are usually after your social security number instead of money. The scammer poses as a Social Security Administration employee claiming that your SSN has been compromised. The scammer will then ask you to confirm your SSN or ask for a fee to issue a new SSN since the old one has been blocked. Needless to say, you should hang up immediately and report the number to the authorities. 

4. Medical Insurance Scams

Medical insurance scammers prey on older American citizens who are on Medicare. This scam became popular right after the FTC announced the replacement of old Medicare cards with new ones without the SSN number. Scammers instantly started calling people claiming to be Medicare representatives and either asked for a replacement fee or verification of personal information like SSN or bank account details. Other scams involving Medicare involve:

  • Scammers asking for your Medicare number and credit card information to sign you up for a policy. 
  • Scammers requesting a mandatory Part D Prescription Drug plan to extend your coverage.
  • Scammers asking to confirm your billing information like bank or credit card numbers. 
  • Scammers requesting to transfer your money to a safer account because the current one has been compromised. 

The Most Common Bank Scams

Just like with government agencies, scammers pretend to be your bank representatives informing you about certain changes to their policies or your account and requesting you to confirm your personal information or pay fees in advance. Some of the most frequent bank imposter scams include:

1. Credit Card & Account Scams

You may receive a call from a scammer claiming to be from your credit card department. They will inform you there is a problem regarding your account and that they are investigating possible fraud and need you to confirm your account details, credit card number or SSN. If you receive such a call, tell the caller you will call them back in a couple of minutes and then call your bank’s credit card department using the number from its official website. If the number is not the same as the one from your caller ID, you can check who called you here. If you determine that the number belongs to a scammer, report it to the FTC.

2. Loan Scam

With this kind of scam, scammers usually target people who have trouble getting a loan from their banks. The scammers will ask you to provide your personal information, which may not seem suspicious considering you previously applied for a loan. However, before you give up any information, check with your bank first or do some research on the company offering to give you a loan.

3. Overpayment Scam 

If you sold an item online, you may receive a phone call telling you that the buyer accidentally overpaid the asking price. The buyer politely asks you to wire back the difference. However, once you return the money, it turns out your buyer never actually paid for the item. Before providing any kind of refund, make sure that the money is deposited into your account first.

4. False Bank Notifications Scam

Using your social media accounts, scammers may obtain information regarding your bank. They may even guess which bank you are using, choosing one of the major names on the market. The caller will offer access to some of your bank’s special privileges in return for an upfront fee or a confirmation of your account details. In order to avoid scams like these, remember that a bank would never ask you to reveal sensitive information over the phone or ask for a fee in advance.