Federal Trade Commission: Imposter Scams Top Complaints Made to FTC in 2018

For the first time, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports imposter scams topped the list of consumer complaints submitted in 2018 to the agency's nationwide Consumer Sentinel database, driven in part by a jump in reports about government imposter scams.

Fraudsters operating government imposter scams falsely claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, or another government agency to get people to turn over money or personal information. Government imposter scams made up nearly half of the 535,417 imposter scam reports to the FTC in 2018. Consumers reported losing a total of nearly $488 million to all types of imposter scams in 2018—more than any other type of fraud—and reported a median loss of $500.

Many government imposter scam reports involved fraudsters, who falsely claimed to be from the Social Security Administration. These scammers typically tell people their Social Security number has been suspended, or that there is some other problem, in an effort to get them to reveal their Social Security number or pay money to “reactivate” it. In reality, Social Security numbers are never suspended and the Social Security Administration will never require you to pay to obtain one.

“If you get a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from a government agency like the Social Security Administration or IRS asking you for personal information or money, it’s a scam,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “You should hang up immediately and report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.”

Click here to read the full press release.