WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWLP) – It seems that thieves will falsely represent any government agency in an effort to steal your identity and financial information.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning people that a recent scheme involves a phone call from someone identifying themselves as an FBI agent.

The caller says they are collecting on a legal judgment. No matter how urgent and serious the call sounds, it’s not real. Like other impersonation scams, these criminals are after your money and personal information. Some victims pay up out of fear of being charged with a crime or arrested.

How to identify a fake call:

  • Know that government agencies don’t call and demand money or personal information. Even if you owe money, real government representatives won’t call to threaten to arrest you, freeze your accounts, or take your property.
  • Never pay anyone who tells you to pay with gift cards, cryptocurrency, or wire transfers. No government agency, including the FBI, demands payment that way. Anyone who does is involved with an illegal scheme. Always.
  • Don’t trust caller ID. Thieves use technology to fake the number they call from. Never call back phone numbers from your caller ID or voicemails.
  • Check with the FBI if you think the call or email is real. If you’re worried, contact one of the FBI field offices to check out the call.

If you receive this type of call, whether from the FBI or another law enforcement or government agency, hang up and report it to the FTC. Even if you didn’t lose money, your information helps investigators work to stop these crimes.