Warning: Imposter scams on the rise
It's National Consumer Protection Week, so let me remind you that con artists are getting much better at impersonating people over the phone in order to steal your money or personal information.
They call and pretend to be a government official, a tech support or utility representative, or a debt collector.
They claim that something terrible is going to happen – such as you'll be arrested for tax fraud or your electricity will be turned off – if you don't pay them right away.
Some of these scammers ask for credit card numbers, some want gift cards, while others tell you to wire the money. Don't do any of these things, no matter how scary the caller sounds.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, victims lose substantially more money to imposter scams than any other type of fraud. Nearly one in five people who reported an imposter scam to the FTC lost money.
Here's the rule: Never provide account numbers or personal information to an unknown caller. Never! Hang up, check it and figure out what to do.
Remember: The government will never ask you to wire money, and it's illegal for telemarketers to ask you to pay by wire.