We recently received a comment on Facebook from a woman who said the U.S. Federal Government Grants Department called and claimed she needed to pay more than $600 in order to receive federal benefits totaling $8,000. She paid the money, never got the $8,000 and asked us how to get a refund of her money.
The phone call was a scam. The Federal Government Grants Department doesn’t exist. More importantly, the government will never call or text you to ask for money.
Even though the woman wrote down the phone number of the caller, it can be hard to trace it back to a real person because of tricks like caller ID spoofing. This means that she probably won’t be able to get her money back.
Be suspicious of any call, text, or e-mail that claims to be from the government. Scammers often use names that sound like real government agencies but aren’t. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has more tips on spotting fake callers who pretend to be the government.
You can find the official names and contact information for federal government agencies in our A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies. Don’t hesitate to contact the agency that claims you owe them money. Be sure to use the contact information listed in the A-Z Index and not the contact information the caller or e-mail provides.
If you do get scammed, then you should file a complaint with the FTC and your state’s consumer agency.
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how can i avoid sweepstakes scams?
Asked by an anonymous Tumblr user.
A recent research poll showed that more than half of all American adults entered sweepstakes within the past year - most of which were legitimate and law-abiding. However, con artists try to capitalize on the popularity of these offers by disguising their illegal schemes.
The Federal Trade Commission receives thousands of complaints each year from consumers about gifts, sweepstakes, and prize promotions. You can protect yourself by recognizing the differences between legitimate sweepstakes and fraudulent ones:
- Prizes in legitimate contests are awarded solely by chance. Contestants don’t have to pay a fee or buy something to enter or increase their odds of winning.
- In fraudulent schemes, “winners” almost always have to pay to enter a contest or collect their “prize,” if they get a prize at all. Requiring a fee to enter is illegal.
Fraudulent sweepstakes promotions often show up through telemarketer calls, e-mails, or in the mail. You can reduce your chance of receiving these notifications by registering for the National Do Not Call Registry and by having your name removed from direct mail and e-mail marketing lists.
Learn your rights under the law when it comes to sweepstakes and find more ways to protect yourself.