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FTC Launches Rulemaking to Combat Sharp Spike in Impersonation Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission launched a rulemaking today aimed at combatting government and business impersonation fraud, a pernicious and prevalent problem that has grown worse during the pandemic. Impersonators use all methods of communication to trick their targets into trusting that they are the government or an established business and then trade on this trust to steal their identity or money.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a sharp spike in impersonation fraud, as scammers capitalize on confusion and concerns around shifts in the economy stemming from the pandemic. Incorporating new data from the Social Security Administration, reported costs have increased an alarming 85 percent year-over year, with $2 billion in total losses between October 2020 and September 2021. Notably, since the pandemic began, COVID-specific scam reports have included 12,491 complaints of government impersonation and 8,794 complaints of business impersonation.

“It is reprehensible that scammers are preying on people during this pandemic by pretending to be someone they can trust,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The sharp spike in impersonation scams has cost our country billions and undermined response and relief efforts. The FTC is prepared to use every tool in our toolbox to deter government and business impersonation fraud, penalize wrongdoers, and return money to those harmed.”

Government and business impersonators can take many forms,…

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