Impersonation scams on the phone are a major problem. Many scammers will call unsuspecting victims posing as governmental officials, IRS employees or police officers threatening dire consequences unless the person receiving the call pays with a credit card over the phone to make a non-existent problem go away. In other instances, the criminals will request personal information such as your Social Security number to resolve a problem, however, if you provide your Social Security number to the caller, you indeed will have a problem because it will be used to make you a victim of identity theft. Making this problem worse is the use of a technique called spoofing by criminals to manipulate your Caller ID into making it appear that the call really is originating with the IRS, your local police or some other authority.

I recently received an email from a police officer telling me about receiving such a call in which the caller, impersonating a police officer, said “the reason you have received this phone call from our department is there has been illegal enforcement action filed on your Social Security number for criminal activity so when you get this message kindly call back at the earliest on this number *********** (number intentionally blocked out) before we begin with the legal proceedings. Thank you and have a nice day.”

TIPS

There are a number of indications that this call is a scam. As the police officer who reported on this scam told me, officers do not call someone to inform them that they are considering starting criminal proceedings. The grammar and nonsensical message also are indications that this call is a scam. As I have warned you many times, never give personal information including your Social Security number or credit card number over the phone to someone who you have not called unless you are absolutely sure that the call is legitimate. The best course of action if you receive such a call and you think it might possibly be legitimate is to hang up and call the real IRS, local police department or other agency purporting to make the call where you can confirm that the call was a scam.

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