The holiday season brought with it an uptick in “government impersonator scams,” according to Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) – another dimension of fraud among many that have seen increases during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier warnings from various government agencies stressed vigilance against charity scams or COVID-19 “miracle cures.” Now, “scammers are getting creative and finding more opportunities for creating fake offers and phony fraud alerts by using the reputation of official government officials or agencies,” according to a Jan. 5 CID press release.
Among the types of scammers highlighted in the release are those impersonating a:
- Debt Collector. Most will attempt to collect on nonexistent debt by threatening legal action. If you’re asked to pay immediately, or by wiring money or using gift cards, hang up.
- Tax Agent. If an IRS agent asks for a specific form of immediate payment, hang up. The IRS also will not initiate contact via text, email, or social media. Learn more about how to tell a fake tax collector from a real one at this link.
- Social Security Administrator. These scammers will ask for your Social Security number or other personal data, often claiming the need to validate your account and issue benefits. You can learn more about how to stop Social Security fraud at this link, and you can report fraud to the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General.
- Servicemember. These attempts focus on social media channels, with fraudsters claiming to be stationed in far-off locations and in need of funds to return home or receive medical care. Family members of current or former military members make enticing targets.
[RELATED: Here’s How to Avoid COVID-19 Vaccine Scams]
MOAA’s three-part series on scams offers guidance on avoiding these and other traps, as well as what steps to take if you’ve fallen prey to a suspected scammer. Premium and Life members can access an October 2020 webinar on preventing scams and frauds (login required), one of several financial resources available via MOAA’s webinar archive.
Need more? Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for a listing of the most recent scam alerts and more tips for prevention.
It’s more important than ever to make sure you’re in the know and your military benefits are protected.