Better Business Bureau wants you to be wary of scammers pretending to be with the government

Scammers will target you via phone calls, emails, text messages

Phone scammers pose as government workers to con you out of money

DETROITThe Better Business Bureau is issuing a warning about scam artists who are taking advantage of people by targeting their cellphones.

Scammers are pretending to be from the government, a police agency, or even COVID-19 contact tracers. It’s all a ploy to get your personal information, or your money.

The scammers might reach out to you over a phone call, text message or even via email.

READ: Better Business Bureau warns consumers of ‘going out of business’ online shopping scam

“It may appear that they are a legitimate caller asking you specific information, but they’re not,” President and CEO of the BBB serving Eastern Michigan Melanie Duquesnel said.

The most common ploy scammers use is pretending to be from social security or the IRS. Those agencies will always reach out to you through the mail first.

“Government agencies generally don’t call to invoke emotion or surprise. They don’t call to scare you. They don’t call to demand things,” Duquesnel said.

Some callers are posing as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials or contact tracers employed by local government agencies. They’re trying to get your information to sell, or your money.

“They’re trying to bait you into being fearful,” Duquesnel said. "They’re really trying to invoke an emotion that will make you take the bait.

A recent AARP survey found 44 percent of people across the United States have been contacted by a fake government worker impersonator. Complaints to the Federal Trade Commission total $450 million in losses since 2015.

If another stimulus bill is passed, beware of calls and texts suggesting you can get your money earlier if you pay them. It’s a scam.

“When the scam artist is asking you to pay them and pay them by a gift card, that is probably one of your largest red flags on the planet,” Duquesnel said. “Hang up. Walk away.”

If you have given away any personal information, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.

READ: The latest scam coverage

About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.