Dialing for Dollars

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Washington, DC – There’s a new scam going around – and if your family name is from South Asia, there’s a chance you already know about it. If the scam sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been around for years, targeting one group, then another. Right now, the people being targeted seem to be from India and Pakistan; tomorrow: who can say?

Here’s what’s happening: You get a call from someone claiming to be from the government – maybe the IRS, maybe a law enforcement agency, maybe the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The caller often has a foreign accent, and might even speak to you in Hindi or Urdu. The caller might have information about you – the last four digits of your Social Security number, for example.

The caller tells you that you owe money, and that if you don’t pay, many bad things will happen (deportation for you and your family, freezing your assets, jail…you name it). The caller will tell you to pay using a prepaid card, and will threaten you if you protest.

If alarm bells went off for you as you read that last paragraph: good! There’s a lot there to set off alarms.

Bell #1: The US government will never call you asking for money. Never.

Bell #2: The kinds of threats these callers make are for things that don’t happen. USCIS, for example, will never send the police to your house, and the IRS will not deport you.

Bell #3: No government representative – and virtually no legitimate business – will ever ask you to pay them using a prepaid card (or money transfer). Even if everything said on a call you get sounds legitimate to you, if someone asks you to buy a prepaid card or wire money, you know: It’s a Scam.

If you’ve gotten one of these calls – or any call asking you to buy prepaid cards or to wire money – the Federal Trade Commission wants to know about it. Please call 1-877-FTC-HELP and tell your story. It helps our investigators build cases against these scammers.

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