The Better Business Bureau is warning of email and phone scams targeting furloughed federal employees.
The problem is worsened by the fact that many government regulatory agencies are working with skeleton staffs.
“Until a resolution is announced, a number of services provided by the FTC, the SBA, and the IRS are unavailable to the public,” writes the BBB’s Sandra Guile.
She adds that this “allows an opportunity for scammers posing as a government agency to phish for personal information, so watch out for bogus phone calls, emails, and text messages during this time.
The potential scams include:
Loss-of-benefit scams — intended victims are told that their federal benefit direct deposits will be cut off unless they verify their bank information
Pre-approved loans and grants — these emails request the person’s bank information
Fraudulent IRS claims — the agency is understaffed, opening the door for a variety of scams
Employment opportunities — these also ask for personal information
Gift cards — The scammers will send a gift card, but ask for a portion back
Go Fund Me postings — Fox News found over 3,000 posts from families in need of help, but the BBB warns that some of these could be fraudulent
Guile advises that “with the temporary closure of the Do Not Call Registry and the FTC, cell users may notice in an uptick in robocalls, text messages, spoofed numbers and other unusual activity.”
Consumers should not answer calls from unknown numbers, she continues. And those who check emails on their smartphones should make sure all their passwords have been “updated to strong passphrases that include combinations of letters, numbers and symbols.”