The BBB is warning Michigan residents about government impersonator scams, which grew increasingly widespread during the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the BBB, scammers may masquerade as government officials asking for money or offering government grants for a price.
A woman in Grand Rapids received a message from a friend regarding a government award.
She then gave her personal information to someone posing as a government representative over the phone.
The con artist then said she needed to pay $800 in gift cards, Bitcoin, or CashApp to obtain a $50,000 grant.
The victim then begged the fraudster to remove her phone number from his list, but according to the BBB, he refused.
While the number of government impersonator scams has reduced from its high in 2021, the Better Business Bureau reports that Michigan residents have lost twice as much money since then.
“Scammers are looking for those who are susceptible as a result of the epidemic,” says Lisa Frohnapfel, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan.
“Be sceptical of unsolicited calls, texts, emails, or letters, and verify the veracity of an offer with a reputable source such as the Better Business Bureau before acting.”
Impostor frauds were the second most common scam in 2021, with consumers reporting $445 million in losses.
A woman in Lansing received a call from a scammer posing as a government employee. The scammer told her that her social security number had been used fraudulently and demanded her personal details.
She refused, and according to the Better Business Bureau, the woman is still receiving calls from the same number a year later.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued some advice on how to avoid being conned.
You will not receive a call from a government agency. Threats or promises of money are not made by government agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or the FBI when they phone citizens.
The Social Security Administration will never threaten you because of an identity theft issue, and social security numbers will never be “suspended.”
Caller ID isn’t always accurate. Scammers can spoof phone numbers to appear to be phoning from a government agency.
Go to the real agency’s website and click contact us to learn how to connect. Numbers found in emails, text messages, or internet searches should not be trusted.
Do not click on links sent in a text message or email purporting to be from the government. Scammers can direct you to bogus websites that appear to be authentic.
Never give up your bank account or other personal information to strangers on the phone. The IRS usually contacts consumers regarding taxes by standard mail rather than by phone.
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Paying with a gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency is never a good idea. No government agency will accept those payment methods.
Don’t waste your money on a “free” government handout. A “free” gift isn’t free if you have to pay for it. Official grant lists can be found at Grants.gov.