Attorney General Ford Advises Nevadans to Protect Themselves from Government Imposter Scams This Tax Season

April 11, 2022

Carson City, NV – Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford advises Nevadans to be on alert for government imposter scams — scams that prey upon a person’s attentiveness to their government. AG Ford will participate in a tele-town hall event to discuss these scams with AARP of Nevada at 10:00 a.m. on April 15, 2022. Participants will have the opportunity to call in and ask questions related to government imposter scams.  More information can be found online here.

In a government imposter scam, the perpetrator pretends to be a government agency or otherwise affiliated with government agencies such as the Social Security Administration, Medicare or the IRS. The scammer usually starts with a phone call, email, text or letter in which the scammer claims to be an official representative of the government entity. The perpetrator will then give you some reason why you need to send the scammer money or give them personal information. These reasons are false, and a way for the scammer to prey on citizens’ trust in the government and/or fear of getting in trouble with the government in order to trick them out of sensitive information and/or money.

“Government imposter scams are on the rise,” said AG Ford. “During this tax season, I urge Nevadans to be mindful of the differences between what a legitimate government entity would do and what these imposters do.”

Common examples of government imposter scams include the scammer claiming that a person owes taxes to the IRS; a social security number has been compromised or suspended; or that a person’s Medicare number needs to be verified. These scammers often use official sounding terms and language some will even claim to have an official ID number and do whatever they can to trick their target into believing them. The imposters will also attempt to trick citizens into responding with account or personal identifying information by creating a sense of urgency or need for the scam target to respond as quickly as possible.  

While the most common government imposter scams are scammers pretending to be from commonly known government entities, scammers will sometimes make up names of government entities that do not exist, such as the National Sweepstake Bureau. These perpetrators often claim that immediate action is required to avoid a bad consequence from taking place. The scammer is trying to get their target to act quickly without thinking the situation through.

While we are in the middle of tax season, it is important to remember that the IRS (or other government entities) will not call, email or text you and ask for money or personal information. If you receive this sort of communication, you can assume it is a scam. The Office of the Nevada Attorney General wants you to be aware of the following tips to help you avoid government imposter scams:

  • Do not wire money, send cash, use gift cards or use cryptocurrency to pay someone who says they are from the government. Once you send money these ways, it is often nearly impossible to get your money back.
  • Do not give out your personal information to someone who calls, texts or emails you and claims to be from the government. If you are concerned, hang up the phone and call the government entity back directly. You can find the legitimate entity number on the government entity’s official website.
  • Do not believe someone who calls claiming to be from a government entity just because the caller ID says so. Through a technology called “spoofing,” a scammer can make the caller ID show the government agency’s real number, or even say something like “IRS” on the caller ID. This is fraudulent and the caller could actually be anywhere in the world.
  • Do not click on links in emails, text messages or messages you receive online. Scammers will often send links that look official but are designed to steal your personal information. Do not click on the message and delete it right away.
  • If you really owe taxes to the IRS, the IRS will contact you by U.S. mail.
  • Government entities such as the IRS and the Social Security Administration will not threaten to arrest you and will not ask you to pay anything over the phone or by gift card.
  • If someone contacts you claiming to be a government entity and uses any sort of scare tactic or pressures you to take immediate action, you can assume it is a scam.
  • A government entity will not call you and immediately ask you to verify your identity by providing personal information.

If you have been a victim of a government imposter scam, you may file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the Nevada Attorney General. Include as much information as possible with your complaint, including any information you have about the person that contacted you such as social media accounts, names and phone numbers.