Criminals sometimes pretend to be calling from government bodies like the IRS or the Social Security Administration. They ask for money, personal information, or say that you’re at risk of missing out on some benefits.
Government impersonation simplified
Government impersonation is any form of fraud in which criminals pretend to be calling you from government agencies. They provide a lot of false information about themselves and their duties at the beginning of a conversation. They might give you their “employee ID number” to sound official. Also, they might have information about you, like your name or home address. They follow the introduction with some reasons why you need to send money or give them your personal information immediately.
Tips to prevent government impersonation
Don’t share your information
Don’t give your personal or financial information to someone who calls, texts, or emails and says they’re with the government. The government would not ask for your personal data.
If someone calls you from a government agency like the IRS, hang up the phone and call the IRS directly to see if they’re looking for you. If they are, they’ll tell you directly.
Be financially responsible
Don’t transfer money or any other types of funds to anyone that says they work for the government. Make sure it’s really them by contacting the authorities directly.
Government impersonation fraud stats
According to the FBI Internet Crime Reports, here's how devastating government impersonation scams were from 2015 to 2022:
Average losses and victim count
year over year
Government impersonation fraud cases have reached record numbers with 13.9K yearly victims (around 38 victims per day) in 2019.
Victims have reported the highest average financial loss to government impersonation scams in 2022 ($20.8K per victim).
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the number of government impersonation cases decreased by 8%, and the average financial loss fell by 4% (from $9K to $8.6K) per victim compared to 2019 as well.
Despite the increasing awareness of online crimes, daily financial losses to government impersonation scams have grown around twenty times from 2015 ($33.1K per day) to 2022 ($659K per day).