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Educate Yourself about Imposter Scams

elderly couple sitting together smiling

Imposter scams aimed at the elderly are on the rise throughout the U.S. With these scams, a person pretends to be a family member, friend, or someone the victim might know. They also impersonate IRS agents, government workers, utility providers (electric company or internet service provider), charities asking for donations, or a company issuing prizes.

Criminals call, text, and/or send emails to scam money from elderly victims. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), things these imposters might say or type include:

  • They are calling from a tech support company about a problem with your computer
  • You owe money to the IRS or another government agency
  • You just won a prize but you have to pay fees to get the prize
  • A friend is in trouble and needs your help
  • You got a check for too much money and you need to send back the extra

What Happens Next?
If you fall for the scam, the criminals will then ask you to buy a gift card or wire money. Paying by gift card or wiring money is like sending cash. When you pay by gift card or wire money, you cannot get the money back.

How to Avoid the Scam
Never send money to someone you don’t know, or if you are unsure if the request is legitimate. If it is an actual government agency, they will contact you through more traditional methods like letters. You can also locate the agency or company’s contact information on your own and connect with them directly. This can help ensure the validity of the request. Additionally:

  • Do not send gift cards, wire funds, or send cash to anyone (even if you feel you know them) without triple-checking the validity of the request. Verify the company or agency on your own or ask a trusted family member to help.
  • Do not give out your personal information to people you do not know, people you feel you might know, or people who are pretending to be someone you know.
  • Do not give access to your computer to anyone.

If You Fall Victim to This Scam
Please call the FTC at 1.877.382.4357 or fill out a complaint online at ftc.gov/complaint. You might not get your money back, but your complaint can help the FTC pinpoint and stop scammers.

Get more information about imposter scams from the FTC, including details about imposter scams, what to know about these crimes, and what to do if you think someone is trying or has scammed you.