There are many scammers who pretend to be government officials – from the IRS, Social Security, and even the FTC. The latest twist is an email from – supposedly – the Secretary of State. In the email, someone pretending to be Secretary Tillerson says you’re owed a payment – which he knows about because of an investigation by the FBI and CIA. The email goes on to say that you’ll get an ATM card with $1.85 million on it – and it even gives you the PIN code. But, to get the ATM card, you have to send in $320 and a bunch of information about you.
Except you don’t have to send either the money or the information. Because it’s not the Secretary of State emailing, nobody owes you $1.85 million dollars (just guessing), and no government agency will ever tell you to pay a fee to collect funds owed to you. Here’s what you can do the next time you get an email or call from someone claiming to be from the government. Ask yourself these two questions:
- Did they say you’ve won a prize, owe money, or might go to jail?
- Did they say that you can get the prize – or get out of trouble – if you pay them money right away?
If the answer to these is “yes,” that’s going to be a scam. You don’t need to send money. You don’t need to give up your information by phone or email. You don’t need to worry. But what I hope you will do is tell people you know about the scam you spotted – and then tell the FTC.