Imposter scams are problematic during pandemic


DAYTON – An imposter scam involves a person claiming to be someone else to deceive you for fraudulent gain.

They often pretend to be someone from a government agency or company you’ve done business with in the past. These imposters will even pretend to be someone you know like a family member or friend.

Their main objective is to steal your money or get your personal information so they can go into business as you.

Imposters will contact you by phone, text, mail, social media or email. These notifications may seem to be legitimate at first glance.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, imposter scams were the top scam of 2020. The FTC had nearly 500,000 reports of imposter scams. The total amount reported lost was $1.2 billion, and the median loss was $850.

The Better Business Bureau had 2,243 imposter scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker in 2020. Out of those, 183 were reported in the state of Ohio. Keep in mind, many of these scams go unreported.

There are generally five types of imposter scams:

• Utility companies. Scammers will call or go door to door in neighborhoods claiming to be from local utility companies. They say you have an overdue payment and it needs to be paid or your service will be shut off. Sometimes these scammers will be from companies you haven’t heard of and claim to have a better deal than what your current company is offering.

• Phony texts or phishing scams. These scammers text you claiming you have won a big prize and need to respond to collect it. They also will send you a text message from an alleged bank or credit card company alerting you about fraudulent activity on your account.

• IRS impostors. These scammers call and claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service. They say you have overdue taxes.

• Emergency scams. These scams, which are also called grandparent or family/friend scams, are imposters claiming to be friends or family members in trouble. They plead with you to send them money because they’re in the hospital, in jail, have travel trouble, etc. Social media has made this type of imposter scam more common because it’s easy to steal someone’s picture to impersonate them.

• Tech support scams. These scammers contact you offering to fix your computer. They will often send a popup to your computer claiming there is a virus and can fix it.

Tips to avoid imposter scams:

• Stay calm and don’t be quick to react.

• Don’t give out personal information, such as Social Security number, bank card or credit card.

• Write down any information given to you like the phone number and name of the company or person you are talking to. Also, take note of what you are told, such as “You owe money,” “You better pay now or you’ll get arrested” or “Put money on a prepaid debit card or wire it to us.”

• Don’t reply to the imposter directly. Call the business in question about the notification you received. Look up the contact information through your own resources not what the imposter provides.

• Report the scam to BBB Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker to make others aware so they don’t fall victim as well.

For more information about scams, visit the BBB website at BBB.org or call 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301.