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government scam

Your phone rings with an unrecognized number, the voice on the other end says “Congratulations, you qualify to receive a free government grant to pay for home repairs…!” While this sounds exciting, it may be a scam. Phone scammers are constantly looking for new and creative ways to trick you into providing your personal information, often pretending to be legitimate government agencies or organizations. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), reported losses to government imposters add up to more than $450 million in the last five years, while only 6% of consumers admit that they’ve been targeted by government these types of scams.

Scammers may call claiming that you’re eligible for a federal government grant. Many traditional grant opportunities involve an application and review process, if you have not applied for a grant and the caller references an individual, application-free grant with an access fee, you might be getting spoofed. A list of federal grant making agencies and available grant information can be found online should you receive a suspicious phone call.

All scam calls will not offer you “free money”. Fraudsters may pretend they’re representatives of real agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Social Security Administration (SSA) and attempt to intimidate you. Outstanding payments, suspected criminal activity, or unpaid taxes will not trigger a suspension of your social security or require you to pay a debt using a gift card or wire transfer like the callers may claim. Both the SSA and IRS have mechanisms in place to report fraud or scam calls.

Don’t be duped into providing your personal information in the heat of the moment with a scammer on the other line. It possible to receive phone calls from the aforementioned agencies. If you receive a possible scam call don’t be afraid to disconnect, research and confirm the legitimate business phone number, and call back to verify what the original caller stated.

File a scam call complaint:

Filing a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

If you are billed for a call you made as a result of this scam, first try to resolve the matter with your telephone company. If you are unable to resolve it directly, you can file a complaint with the FCC at no cost.

Filing a complaint with the FTC

If you been a victim of a government grant-related scam, file a complaint with the FTC or call their toll free at 1-8777-FTC-HELP (1887-382-4357)

Filing a complaint with the Health and Human Services (HHS)

If you’ve been a victim of a grant-related scam, contact their Fraud Hotline at 1-800-447-8477

Report robocalls and unwanted telemarketing calls to the National Do Not Call Registry.

 

The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry. If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.

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