FTC: Impostor scams are on the rise

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Identity fraud complaints have dropped but concerns over impostor scams have gone up, according to new numbers from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC says it received more than 406,000 complaints of impostor scams last year alone.

Eliva Uscanga got one of these calls, with the person on the other end claiming to be an IRS agent demanding $37,000.

“I just was scared and didn’t know what to do,” she recalled.

These types of calls have become the second consumer complaint on the FTC’s annual list.

Martha Crippen is in charge of the Consumer Protection Unit at the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office. She said the best thing to do when you receive a call like this is to hang up and ignore the call.

“If you call back, then they know it’s a valid phone number that they’re calling,” Crippen explained. “And, they’ll share it with their scammer friends and you’ll be inundated with calls.”

Those who have already fallen victim to a scam will have a hard time trying to get their money back.

“Unfortunately, the majority of these scammers are out of the country,” Crippen added.

It is important to file a police report, regardless.

The FTC said they take the complaints seriously.

“Impostor scams are a serious and growing problem, and you can be sure that the FTC will use all the tools at its disposal to address it,” said Thomas Pahl, the acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in a statement.

Click here to read the FTC’s complete list of consumer complaints »