Do You Really Know Who Is Calling? Beware of Imposters
National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) runs from March 1–7, 2020. This year, the focus is on imposter scammers who impersonate the Postal Service™, the Social Security Administration, and the Internal Revenue Service.
In 2019, imposter scams were the number one fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission, with people losing more than $667 million in that year alone. Social Security imposters were the top government imposter scam reported. In 2020, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has also seen an increase in scammers who impersonate the Postal Service through email scams.
In government imposter scams, victims are initially contacted via phone or email by a scammer who impersonates a government agency official. The victim is then informed through misrepresentations and threats that they need to remit payment to resolve an issue specific to the scam. The scammers try to create a sense of urgency and isolate victims in order to induce the victims to remit payments. Anyone can be a victim of these scams, but they often most affect the elderly and vulnerable.
The scammers will direct victims to remit payment through a variety of methods, including cash or check in the U.S. Mail™, FedEx, or UPS. Victims may also be directed to remit payment via gift cards, virtual currency, or wire transfer.
During NCPW, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service reminds Postal Service employees and customers:
- Don’t be pressured into making immediate financial decisions.
- Consult with a trusted friend or family member before making a payment.
- Don’t give your financial or personal information to anyone you don’t know and don’t trust.
- Reduce unwanted telemarketing calls by taking advantage of call blocking services, some of which are free. Contact your telephone carrier for more information.
- The Postal Service, Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, and other government agencies will never call you and ask for payment over the phone or ask for your personal information.
- Report scams to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at uspis.gov.
For more information about fraud prevention and consumer protection tips, Postal Service employees and their families can use the following resources:
- The U.S. Postal Inspection Service website: uspis.gov.
- The free AARP helpline staffed by volunteers trained in fraud counseling: 877-908-3360.
- The Federal Trade Commission website: ftc.gov.
— Communications, Governance, and Strategy,
U.S. Postal Inspection Service, 2-27-20