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Northwest Bank's Guide to Protect Yourself from Imposter Scams

posted on Monday, April 15, 2019 in Security & Fraud Information

In February, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received nearly 3 million consumer complaints of imposter scams, making it the most common consumer complaint of last year. To help consumers avoid becoming a victim of an imposter scam, Northwest Bank is offering the following guide to recognize and prevent fraudulent imposter scams.

Imposter scams can take on several forms. For example, one involves a fraudster contacting a consumer, claiming to work for a government agency and attempting to convince them to send money or provide personal information. The fraudster claims to work for the Internal Revenue Service and alerts you that you owe back taxes. The caller may threaten to have you arrested if you don’t pay a specific amount over the phone. Another involves a caller claiming to be from the Social Security Administration, claiming that Social Security benefits may be withheld if you don’t supply specific personal information.

While imposter scams are becoming more commonplace, they can be easily avoided if you know what to look for. Robocalls (calls made using an auto-dialer), for example, can immediately be marked as fraudulent as it is illegal to make sales calls this way. Government agencies also do not use automated calls to contact people. By following these guidelines, you can help protect yourself from imposter scams.

  • Be suspicious. Government agencies will never call you out of the blue to let you know that you owe money or to verify personal information. If you receive a call asking for such information, hang up immediately. You should also never trust caller ID.
    Scammers are able to spoof real numbers to make themselves appear legitimate.
  • Be protective. Guard your personal information closely. If someone calls you asking for Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, your address or any other personal data, it’s best to assume you’re speaking to a fraudster.
  • Be proactive. If you are concerned that the call is not legitimate, you should always call the agency directly. You may also want to do a quick online search using the name of the agency and scam to see if others have reported similar calls.
  • Be calm. Fraudsters will attempt to panic you into making a quick, uninformed decision. Stay calm and don’t let yourself be rushed. If the caller threatens you in any way, hang up and call your local law enforcement.
  • Be informed. You can sign up to receive free scam alerts from the Federal Trade Commision by visiting You will receive alerts of current scams that are circulating as well as tips and advice on how to protect yourself.
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