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Imposter scams pretending to be authority figures

Imposter scams pretending to be authority figures

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These scams primarily use the telephone to contact you, but scammers may also use email, text messages, social media, or U.S. mail. Scammers pretend to be from an agency or organization you know to gain your trust. Law enforcement imposters use tactics that usually say there is an investigation with you, they may also claim that they are investigating someone who is scamming you, or that there is some other problem that they need your help with. 

Examples of Authority Imposter Scams:

  • FBI Impersonation: Scammers might claim they're with the FBI and that you owe money or are under investigation.  
  • Homeland Security Impersonation: Fraudsters might pretend to be from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and claim there's a problem with your records.
  • Bank Fraud Department Impersonation: Scammers may call saying they're from your bank's fraud department and need to verify suspicious transactions.
  • Police or Sheriff's Department Impersonation: Scammers claim they're law enforcement officers and might allege you have outstanding fines or warrants.
  • IRS Impersonation: Fraudsters will say you owe back taxes and demand immediate payment.

Tactics Used By Authority Figure Scammers:

  • Pressure Tactics: They'll pressure you to act quickly, making you feel as though something bad will happen if you don't comply immediately.
  • Payment Demands: Asking for payment through gift cards, wire transfers, or other untraceable methods.
  • Phishing: Sending fake emails or messages that look like they're from legitimate organizations to steal personal information.
  • Robocalls: Automated phone calls with messages that direct you to call a number where scammers wait to deceive you.
  • Fake Badges or ID Numbers: They might provide badge numbers or other "official" numbers to seem legitimate.
  • Spoofed Phone Numbers: Making it appear as though the call is coming from an official number.
  • Creating Fear: The suggestion that the victim's home title has been tampered with induces panic.
  • Sense of Duty: Asking you to assist in the arrest of someone to make you feel responsible and integral to the "investigation."
  • Manipulation: Convincing you that their actions are crucial for the success of a legal operation.

Steps to Avoid Becoming a Victim:

  • Do Not Transfer Your Money! Do not buy that gift card! Never pay someone who insists that you pay with a gift card, prepaid debit card, Internet currency or cryptocurrency, wire transfer, money transfer, or by mailing cash. Scammers use these forms of payment because they are hard to trace.  No legitimate agency will demand immediate payment through gift cards or wire transfers.
  • Never Give Personal Information: Never provide personal, banking, or any other sensitive information over the phone unless you're certain of who you're speaking with.
  • Be skeptical. If you think a real law enforcement officer is trying to reach you, call your local law enforcement using a non-emergency number to verify. Do not believe scammers who “transfer” your call to an official or who feed you a number as proof. Scammers can create fake numbers and identities. Do not trust your caller ID.
  • Do not take immediate action. If you receive a communication that causes a strong emotional response, take a deep breath. Hang up or ignore the message. Research: If unsure, look up the official number for the agency and call them directly to verify any claims.
  • Ask for Written Proof: Genuine agencies will provide written documentation of any claims.
  • Ignore Threats: Legitimate agencies won't threaten you with arrest or other actions over the phone.
  • Talk to Someone: Before making decisions, talk to a trusted friend, family member, or advisor.
  • Report the Scam: If you're approached by a potential scammer, report it to the local police, FTC, or relevant authorities.
  • No haga clic en enlaces o archivos adjuntos. Bloquee las llamadas y los mensajes de texto no deseados.
  • Educate Yourself: Regularly update yourself on new scams and tactics so you're always prepared.

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