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Fraud facts

5 things to know about government scams

Phone calls were the most common way people reported being contacted by scammers last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The Postal Inspection Service is highlighting government impostor scams during National Consumer Protection Week, which began March 1. Here are five things you should know, courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission and the Inspection Service.

1. Impostor scams were the No. 1 fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission in 2019. People who contacted the agency last year reported losing more than $667 million to impostors, who often pretended to be calling from the government or a well-known business, a romantic interest or a family member with an emergency. When people lost money, they most frequently reported paying scammers with a gift card.

2. The most common government impostor scams involve Social Security. There were more than 166,000 reports about Social Security-related scams, and the median individual loss was $1,500.

3. Phone calls were the most common way people reported being contacted by scammers. While most people said they hung up on those calls, those who lost money reported a median loss of $1,000 in 2019.

4. Federal authorities are cracking down on government scammers. During 2019, Federal Trade Commission law enforcement actions led to more than $232 million in refunds to people who lost money. More than 1.9 million people cashed checks mailed by the commission, and during the past four years, people have cashed more than $1 billion in Federal Trade Commission refund checks.

5. The Postal Inspection Service wants to hear from victims, too. USPS employees and customers should report scams to the Inspection Service at

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