|By impersonating law enforcement, scammers intimidate victims into giving up money or personal information. But once a scam becomes widely reported, con artists need to change up their tricks. Watch out for this new twist: scammers using official-looking credentials to gain trust. |
How the scam works – You receive a telephone call, email, text message, or a message on social media by someone alleging to be from a law enforcement agency. Scammers claim to represent agencies ranging from the local police to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to United States Border Services. These impostors tell you there is a problem you need to resolve immediately—usually by sending them a fee. In one recent version of this scam, the impostor claims to have seized a package with your name on it. Now, they need a copy of your driver’s license and money to fix the issue. Scammers often threaten fines, arrest, or other penalties in an attempt to scare you into immediate action. Here’s the new twist! If you are hesitant, the scammers will offer to text or email doctored credentials to you, to confirm their identity. The badge is either stolen or has been edited to include a different name. But no matter how convincing the “badge” or the impostor’s story may be, always do your research before acting. If you send these scammers money, they will disappear, and you won’t be able to get it back.
How to avoid law enforcement impersonator scams -Don’t give into pressure. Even if the threats scare you, do not take immediate action. Hang up or ignore the message. If you think there is a possibility you have been contacted by a real law enforcement agent, call the agency directly using a non-emergency number to confirm. Never send money to strangers. Scammers will probably ask you to wire funds or buy prepaid gift cards to pay the required “fines.” Scammers prefer to receive money this way because it is hard to trace. Plus, you won’t be able to get your money back. Guard your personal information carefully. Don’t share information like your address, social security number, or bank account information without first making sure you are speaking to a legitimate official – even if they already have some of your information. Don’t answer messages from strangers. Don’t click on links or attachments in messages from strangers. They are probably part of a phishing scam. Block unsolicited calls and text messages immediately. For more information Learn more about this scam from the Office of the Inspector General. Read more about a similar government impostor scam and visit BBB.org/AvoidScams for more ways to avoid getting scammed. If you spot a law enforcement scam, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. You can also report your experience to the FBI at IC3.gov. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to similar schemes.
ABOUT BBB SERVING CENTRAL INDIANA: The Better Business Bureau has empowered people to find businesses, brands and charities they can trust for over 110 years. In 2021, people turned to BBB more than 200 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 25,000 charities, free at BBB.org. Local, independent BBBs can be found across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Indiana, which was founded in 1916 and serves 46 counties.
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