Federal Trade Commission

03/03/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/03/2021 21:17

No, the government won’t call/text/email you for money

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March 3, 2021
Emily Wu
Attorney, Federal Trade Commission

Lots of people are having trouble sleeping, thanks to the pandemic and all the parts of our lives it's affecting. And it doesn't help when you get a call saying you owe the government money. Oh, and, they add, you'll go to jail if you don't pay up immediately. That's a scam, and nothing to lose sleep over. For those who are a little more cut off from people than usual, these calls might feel more real and worrying than they are. If you know someone might be cut off from others right now, reach out to them to make sure they know these calls are scams.

Here are some things you might share with them about government imposters.

First, plenty of people have spotted calls, texts, and emails from bogus government officials. In 2020, people reported losing more than $174 million to government imposter scams, with a median loss of $1,250.

Second, you can share a few ways to spot these scammers in the act:

  • Don't trust caller ID. Scammers manipulate caller ID to look like the call is coming from an official government number. Look up the agency's number yourself, if you're concerned, and give them a call. But don't use the number in caller ID.
  • Government agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Social Security Administration (SSA) won't call, text, or email you to say that you owe money.
  • Nobody legit will ever tell you to pay with gift cards, money transfers, or cryptocurrency.
  • Never share personal information with anyone who contacts you. If you're worried, look up the government agency's information yourself to check with them.

Sharing these tips might just help someone you care about sleep a little more soundly. And, of course, if you spot a scammer, talk about it, and then tell the FTC at Each report helps protect your community.

Blog Topics:
Privacy, Identity & Online Security
Scam Tags: Scammers Impersonating the Government
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Robert Douglas ...| March 3, 2021
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Hello I been called so many times with that saying their been a lawsuit against my social security number every week telling me that their been a warrant set out for my arrest or a lawsuit against my ssn

preNASD| March 3, 2021
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I have had the same experience over the last 3-4 weeks. This is only one type of the bogus calls I've received from the FTC.

FTC Staff| March 3, 2021
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If someone calls and pretends to be from the FTC, please let us know. Report that to Thank you.

shirlb| March 3, 2021
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I had a person imitating a cop telling me the same thing today.
What will they think of next?

Larissa Davila| March 3, 2021
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Why don'y you have this one in Spanish, it is important to provide this information to the Spanish speaking community.

nettynoo | March 3, 2021
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It would be helpful to have these articles in a printable format for our residents at the retirement community where I work. Thank you.

FTC Staff| March 3, 2021
  • reply

The articles are formatted to print; if you click the print command on your computer, you can preview or print the article.

You can also copy the text and add some, or all, of it into a newsletter, email or other message of your own. All information from the FTC is in the public domain and free to use and share.

We have information for scams that often affect older adults in our Pass It On campaign, You can order free copies of the tip sheets you see online, or related bookmarks, to hand out. All our material is in English in Spanish and available at We have other print information about staying safe online, shopping for funerals, how to avoid identity theft and more.

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