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How to avoid scams that appear to be from the government

Every day, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives numerous complaints from people who have been scammed.

Some of these complaints are from people who are encouraged to reveal information about their salary, benefits, tax rebate, or bank information.

In order to get this information, the criminals pose as Federal government representatives and make fake letters, e-mails, phone calls or websites that look real and official.

Protect yourself from scammers by following these recommendations:

Be wary of suspicious calls. Don’t reveal personal information like your Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers to people who call and tell you they work for the government. No government agency will ever call you out of the blue and ask for personal data.

Sign up on the National Do Not Call Registry to stop telemarketers from contacting you.

Don’t pay money when applying for a free scholarship or grant. Government agencies will not ask for money upfront to process any grants or subsidies. These transactions are free and only official government agencies provide federal scholarships or grants.

Don’t believe false job offers. Many scammers use websites that look like they’re associated with the government to post jobs and offer guaranteed employment in exchange for money. Do not send money or reveal personal and confidential information to people who hand out brochures or study materials for job placement exams. Job applications in all government departments are free.

File a complaint

If you have been scammed or you suspect someone is committing fraud, register a complaint or get in touch with the FTC at 1-877-382-4357.

When filing a complaint you may be asked for the following information:

  • Date, time and phone number of the call you received
  • Name, website or email address of the organization that contacted you
  • The amount of money and form of payment that the scammer requested
  • Other pertinent details and information

Read this note in Spanish.

FTC Releases Top 10 Complaint Categories for 2012 

The Federal Trade Commission released its top 10 complaint categories for 2012.

For the first time ever, the agency received more than two million complaints. Of the two million complaints, 18 percent were related to identity theft. Of those 18 percent, almost half were related to tax or wage fraud.

Here is a complete list of the top 10 complaint categories:

  1. Identity Theft - 369,132 complaints
  2. Debt collection - 199,721 complaints
  3. Banks and Lenders - 132,340 complaints
  4. Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales - 115,184 complaints
  5. Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries - 98,479 complaints
  6. Impostor Scams - 98,479 complaints
  7. Internet Services - 81,438 complaints
  8. Auto-Related Complaints - 78,062 complaints
  9. Telephone and Mobile Services - 76,783 complaints
  10. Credit Cards - 51,550 complaints

The FTC uses the Consumer Sentinel Network to record complaints throughout the year. The secure database is available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies across the country and helps agencies research cases and track targets.

Learn more about the 2012 complaints from FTC.

Top Consumer Complaints of 2011

What is the American consumer most upset about?

Identity theft. It accounted for 15 percent of the 1.8 million complaints registered with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2011.

Here’s the rest of top complaints FTC received in 2011:

  • Debt Collection Complaints
  • Prizes, Sweepstakes, and Lotteries
  • Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales
  • Banks and Lenders
  • Internet Services
  • Auto-related Complaints
  • Impostor Scams
  • Telephone and Mobile Services
  • Advance-Fee Loans and Credit Protection/Repair

The data comes from complaints entered by Americans into the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant. The FTC shares the complaints with more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad, allowing them to track trends and target offenders.

Learn more about the FTC’s top complaints for 2011.

Download a PDF about what to do if your identity is stolen.

Asked by Anonymous

consumer griviances against a u.s. bank

We have a number of resources available to help you resolve a grievance with a company, including a sample complaint letter, third parties that can help you resolve a complaint, and legal help.

Learn how to file a complaint and resolve consumer problems.

Top FTC Complaints

Rank Category № of Complaints Percentage
1Identity Theft250,85419%
2Debt Collection144,15911%
3Internet Services65,5655%
4Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries64,0855%
5Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales60,2054%
6Imposter Scams60,1584%
7Internet Auctions56,1074%
8Foreign Money/Counterfeit Check Scams43,8663%
9Telephone and Mobile Services37,3883%
10Credit Cards33,2582%

Each year the Federal Trade Commission shares the list of the most common consumer complaints the agency receives.

For the 11th year in a row, identity theft has been the number one complaint.

You can read the full report (PDF) for more details on the complaints.