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Government Imposter Scam:

Receiving a call from a government agency can cause anyone to panic, especially when they threaten to terminate benefits or demand unexpected payment. According to an article from the National Council on Aging (2021), Government Imposter Scams are one of the most common scams targeting older adults. This scheme can come in many forms, including calls and/or texts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security Administration, and even Medicare. These calls may come from unknown numbers, but often mimic legitimate numbers, area codes and caller IDs. The important thing to remember is that government entities will NEVER threaten you, demand money, or ask for personal information over text or phone call.

The Federal Trade Commission has provided these tips for protecting yourself against Government Imposter Scams:

  • Don’t wire money, send cash, or use gift cards or cryptocurrency to pay someone who says they’re with the government. Scammers use this method because it’s hard to track that money, and almost impossible to get it back. They’ll take your money and disappear.
  • Don’t give your financial or other personal information to someone who calls, texts, or emails and says they’re with the government. If you think a call or message could be real, stop, hang up the phone and call the government agency directly at a number you know is correct.
  • Don’t trust your caller ID. Your caller ID might show the government agency’s real phone number or even say “Social Security Administration,” for example. But caller ID can be faked. It could be anyone calling from anywhere in the world.
  • Don’t click on links in unexpected emails or text messages. Scammers send emails and text messages that look like they’re from a government agency but are designed to steal your money and your personal information. Don’t click on any link, and don’t pass it on to others. Simply delete the message.

For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission – Consumer Advice website, or call Aging Resources to speak with an Elder Rights Specialist – (515) 255-1310.