FTC Warns Scammers Are Impersonating Commissioner Noah Phillips

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scammers
Courtesy of Bryan Santos (Pixabay CC0)

Scammers are calling and claiming to be Noah Phillips, the FTC commissioner; they are not. The caller gives his badge number, which is false. “There’s a warrant for your arrest (these’s not), and demands you pay up (nope);” these lies are a typical scenario for scammers, warns the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Anyone answering the scammer’s call will hear a person claim to be someone of authority, offer s0-called proof, and make a financial threat. They might demand bank account information or request payment by loading money onto a gift card. Scammers may convince their mark to send money using a wire service like Western Union or MoneyGram or buy cryptocurrency. They could say that the money is a way to pay a fine, avoid jail, or settle an unpaid balance.

The scammers are using a story the FTC has seen before:

It’s that fake Amazon balance story the scammer pretending to be Commissioner Phillips is using.

The FTC wants everyone to know: Nobody from the agency will ever call, email, text, or message anyone on social media to demand money or threaten arrest. “Never pay anyone who contacts you out of the blue and tells you to pay,” the commission warns. Under no circumstances should bank account access be given to the person demanding, never buy cryptocurrency, wire money, buy gift cards, or send cash. It is a scam.

scammers
Courtesy of South Carolina State Library (Flickr CC0)

Scammers are skilled liars and con artists; they are good at their so-called jobs. Their targets cross all backgrounds, ages, and income levels. They use sophisticated methods to steal their marks’ money and personal information.

In addition to the methods mentioned above, only scammers request money in exchange for employment. For example, they might be offering a job with a catch. It could be anything from a membership fee, or sales kit, to a percentage of the paycheck for a designated time.

For example, they might “live and say you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes but you have to pay a fee to get it,” according to the FTC website.

These schemes have one thing in common — scammers pressure their marks to act immediately. They want people to react before they think, writes Jim Kriedler.

Scammers use tactics like claiming they are authority figures to intimidate people. For example, they might claim to be from the Social Security Administration, IRS, Medicare, FBI, police officer, or make up an official-sounding name. Others may claim to be from the utility company, a charity asking for donations, or a politician asking for money.

One way to protect against scammers is to block unwanted phone calls and text messages. Google and Apple offer call-blocking call-labeling applications for phones that work well. To defend oneself online, do not click on links sent in an email unless it is expected — even if it is from a contact. When making a payment or donation from a link, double-check that the URL in the address bar is correct before submitting any personal information.

The FTC advises anyone who thinks they might be the scam victim or spot a scam to file a report. ReportFruad.ftc.gov puts reports in the hands of more than 3,000 law enforcement officers. While the FTC cannot resolve individual reports, they use them to investigate and bring cases against scams, fraud, and bad business practices.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

Federal Trade Commission: Warning: Callers are impersonating FTC Commissioner Noah Phillips; by Jennifer Leach
Federal Trade Commission: It’s financial literacy month: protect yourself from scammers; by Jim Kreidler
Federal Trade Commission: How To Avoid a Scam

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Bryan Santos’ Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of South Carolina State University’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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