The Federal Trade Commission, the agency that is the watchdog over scams in which federal agencies are being impersonated, is itself the subject of such scams, an IG report has said.
“There have been an alarming number of allegations of individuals impersonating the FTC and its employees. Scammers are exploiting the FTC’s good name by pretending to represent the Commission and asking people to provide personal information or send them money to pay a fake fine, cover “shipping” for a phony sweepstakes or lottery prize, etc. Sometimes scammers even use the names of actual FTC employees,” it said.
It said that last year the FTC received approximately 2,100 complaints about the impersonation of FTC personnel. While that is far below the number of complaints the agency received about impersonations of other agencies such as the IRS and the SSA, “impersonation of the FTC and its employees not only harms consumers, it can negatively influence the public’s perception of the Commission, thus impacting the Commission’s ability to effectively protect consumers and maintain competition in commerce.”
The IG highlighted that issue in its annual report of key management challenges facing the agency. While the issue does not qualify as such a challenge because the IG did not find shortcomings in the FTC’s enforcement efforts aimed at stopping impersonation scammers, it bears management’s attention “because of the reputational risk to the agency and the potential impact that the rising number of complaints could have on the agency’s resources,” it said.