Imposter Scams

In 2019, imposter scams were the number one scam reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These scams normally take the form of an email or a phone call. The common factor is that the imposter is masquerading as someone, or an organization, you know or trust to pressure you into sending money to them. Below are five common imposter scams.

COVID-19 Scams

With the current Covid-19 pandemic, scammers a shifting tactics to take advantage of worries related to the Coronavirus. Scammers are making fraudulent calls, texts, and emails pretending to be from the Social Security Administration, IRS, Census, USCIS and the FDIC. The scammers are offering “Covid-19 cure kits”, “coronavirus test packages”, or notifying you that your relief check is ready to be picked up. If you respond to these calls or messages, you will be asked for money, personal information, or both.

Things to know:

  • No one will contact you concerning the Coronavirus relief check from the governement. You do not have to "sign up" anywhere to receive it. More information can be found here.
  • Phone or text Coronavirus-related (COVID-19) scams can be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or e-mail to
  • Cyber scam can be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at


IRS Imposter Scam

IRS imposter scams are when a caller claims you owe taxes or there is an issues with your return. They then request that you send money via wire transfer or other form of payment. The caller will normally threaten you by stating you will be arrested if you do not comply.

Also, with Covid-19, Coraniavirus IRS scams are becoming more prevalent. The government is sending out relief checks as part of the federal response to the Coronavirus. Scammers know this and are finding ways to cash in on yours. More information on Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments can be found

Things to know:

Text Message Shipment Imposter Scam

Scammers are turning to text messages as a new tactic to commit fraud. A common scam uses text message that referene a fake shipment by FedEX, USPS, DHL, Amazon, or UPS. You are asked to click a link to update delivery preferences or to complete a satisfaction survey. The link will take you to a location that will attempt to steal your personal information.

Things to know:

  • If you are expecting a package, and it could be legit, contact the company using a known website or phone number. Do not use the information in the text message.
  • Text Messages scams can be reported to the FTC at

Tech Support Imposter Scam

Tech support imposter scams can occur as a phone call, email, or even a pop-up in your web browser. Tech support scammers persuade you to believe you have a problem with your computer, such as a virus. They want you to pay for tech support services you don't need, to fix a problem that does not exist.

Things to know:

Gift Card Imposter Scam

A common scam taking place is for scammers to pose as a coworker, such as your boss or director, or a family member in need. The scammer gives a very believable story as to why they need a gift card. The scam is for you to buy the gift card, send over the numbers from the back and then then they will pay you back at a later time.

Things to know:

  • Once a gift card code is revealed it is the equivalent of cash. There are no ways to recover funds once the code is given away.
  • The best way to avoid becoming the victim of this scam is to pick up the phone and call the person who is asking.
  • Gift Card scams can be reported to the FTC at


What can I do?

The FTC encourages everyone to file a complaint whenever they have been the victim of scams, identity theft, or other unfair or deceptive business practices. Complaints can submitted to the FTC at

If you receive an imposter scam on your University of Richmond’s email please forward it to If you are unsure if it is an imposter scam or legitimate, feel free to contact us at