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Can you spot a government imposter?

Even if your phone’s caller ID says “FTC” or “IRS,” or shows Washington, DC’s “202” area code, it could still be a scam. Scammers know how to show fake information on caller ID.

The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers about scammers who pretend they’re with the government to scare you into sending money. They say you owe taxes or some other debt, and tell you to put money on a prepaid debit card and tell them the number — something no government agency would ask you to do.

Others say you’ve won big money in a sweepstakes the FTC or some other agency is supervising, and that the money will be yours when you pay for shipping, taxes, or some other expense. But it’s just phony baloney. Federal government agencies will never ask you to send money for prizes.

To learn more about how these scams work and how to avoid them, read the FTC’s consumer blog post Can you spot a government imposter? and Government Imposter Scams.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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