A new study by the Better Business Bureau shows that 44 percent of Americans have been a victim of a government impostor scam. It also finds that scammers are using the pandemic to try to take advantage of people by posing as representatives of government agencies.
Stephanie Garland, Springfield regional director for the Better Business Bureau, says they’ve seen an increase in government imposter scams in southwest Missouri since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Lisa Cantrell of Marshfield got an email last week telling her she had unclaimed coronavirus stimulus money. She called the number on the email, gave out personal information, and, when she was asked to pay a fee to claim the money, realized something wasn’t right. Cantrell contacted the better Business Bureau, and Garland told her that, although she hadn’t given out her social security number, the information she had given out compromised many of her accounts. She helped her through the process of securing those accounts.
Cantrell said the experience caused her to lose her faith and trust in people.
"You just lose hope from everything," she said. You know, you just lose--you lose hope."
Garland said the Better Business Bureau wants everyone to be aware that there are scammers out there trying to take advantage of them.
"So, of these people are calling you and asking all these things, hang up, call us, please let us know and then we can help you best we can," she said.
The average age of scam victims is between 20 and 59-years, but older victims tend to lose more money, according to Garland.
Anyone who is the victim of a scam may call Garland at 417-380-5074 or go to bbb.org. She said they provide information they receive on scams to law enforcement within 24 hours.