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Apr 9, 2024

Help Stop Government Impersonator Scams

Sponsored Content provided by Rosalie Calarco - Associate State Director, Coastal Region, AARP

Tax season isn't just about filing returns; it's also prime time for IRS impostor scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers reported theft of $5.8 million via IRS scams in 2023 alone. Victims of all government impostor scams reported theft of nearly $617 million in 2023, and unfortunately, a lot of these crimes go unreported. Here is what you need to know about impersonator scams so you can stay one step ahead of these crooks.

IRS impostor scams often begin with a robocall, instructing you to press a number on your keypad to talk with a live agent or call back using the number provided. Victims often trust these contacts because the phone numbers seem legitimate. However, scammers can manipulate caller ID to appear as through the call is coming from the IRS. 

Once they have you on the phone, they may demand payment for back taxes under the threat of arrest. The payment of choice in these scams tend to be via wire transfer, gift cards, or cryptocurrency. If you get this type of request, it is 100% certainly a scam.

Sometimes these impostors will claim the IRS owes you an unexpected refund in an attempt to steal sensitive information like your Social Security number or bank account details. 

Even if a caller has personally identifiable information of yours to “prove” who they are, don’t believe it. Disengage, and if you’re concerned, contact the entity via a trusted number (a paper statement or by finding a number on that entity’s website).

Another frequently impersonated agency is the Social Security Administration. Here’s what you need to know to spot and stop a Social Security impostor scam.
 
Criminals rely on getting their target into a heightened emotional state, such as fear, panic or excitement. They know high emotions can block access to logical thinking. Social Security impostors tend to use fear (your number has been suspended, call immediately) or excitement (you are eligible for a higher monthly benefit).
 
If you get a call claiming to be from Social Security and you are not already engaged with them on a specific matter, hang up. Concerned? Look up the number to your local office at ssa.gov/locator and find out if the agency has been trying to reach you.
 
Be a fraud fighter!  If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.  
 
Report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.
 
 

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