We recently heard about a woman who said the “U.S. Federal Government Grants Department” called and claimed she needed to pay $600 in order to receive federal benefits totaling $8,000. You guessed it … she paid the money, and never got the $8,000.
The phone call was a scam. The Federal Government Grants Department doesn’t exist. More importantly, the government will never call, email, 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. (Click the link if you don’t know what “caller ID spoofing” is.) She probably won’t be able to get her money back.
Be suspicious of any call, text, or email 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 email provides.
If you do get scammed, then you should file a complaint with the FTC and your state’s consumer agency. The link to Georgia’s consumer affairs offices is located at: http://www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/georgia.shtml.