New HampshireDepartment of JusticeOffice of the Attorney General

News Release

For Immediate Release
March 10, 2022

Contact:
Warren G. Cormack, Attorney
warren.g.cormack@doj.nh.gov | (603) 271-1196

Consumer Alert – Attorney General Encourages the Public to Take Steps to Protect Themselves Against Scams in Recognition of National Consumer Protection Week

Concord, NH – Attorney General John M. Formella announces that, in recognition of National Consumer Protection Week (March 6 through March 12), the New Hampshire Department of Justice will be issuing a series of consumer alerts to inform the public of the most common consumer protection issues reported in New Hampshire. This consumer alert will identify common types of scams and provide tips for consumers to avoid being victimized by scammers.

Scams are fraudulent attempts to trick people into giving away their money or personal information. Scams are one of the most common issues that consumers report to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. According to the Federal Trade Commission, United States consumers reported losing 70 percent more money to fraud in 2021 than in 2020, with $2.3 billion being lost to imposter scams alone.

Any time a consumer receives an unsolicited request for money or personal information, the requester is probably attempting a scam. A scammer may try to contact consumers by telephone, email, mail, or even in person. Scammers often ask for personal information including names, addresses, social security numbers, bank information, and credit card information.

“Imposter scams” are one of the most frequently reported scams in New Hampshire. In an “imposter scam,” the scammer impersonates a government agency, legitimate business, loved one, or any other person in order to trick people into giving away money or personal information. Three of the most common “imposter scams” include the “government impersonation scam,” the “IRS scam,” and the “romance scam.”

  • A “government impersonation scam” is a type of imposter scam in which a scammer claims to be affiliated with a government agency. Often, the government impersonator will ask victims to pay for licensing or certificates. These scams may use government letterhead, logos, seals, official government contact information, or links to government websites.
  • The “IRS scam” is common during tax season. It is a type of government impersonation scam. In this scam, consumers receive calls claiming to be from the IRS and demanding payment for delinquent, or “back,” taxes. Many of these calls are directed towards senior citizens. The callers often ask for immediate payment and may threaten arrest, wage garnishment, or other forms of coercion. The IRS cautions taxpayers that, with very few exceptions, their first contact with a delinquent taxpayer will be in the form of a letter from the IRS sent through the mail, not by a phone call. The IRS does not request personal or financial information by email and it never asks for credit card, debit card, or prepaid card information over the phone.
  • “Romance scams” occur when a scammer gains the trust and affection of someone over the phone, on an app, or on a website before asking for money or personal information. Romance scammers troll online dating and social media websites using fake personas. These scammers often target single individuals, including those recently divorced or widowed. They ingratiate themselves with the victim by claiming to share common interests or circumstances, using the victim’s personal information to make a connection.

Attorney General Formella offers the following advice to help consumers avoid becoming victimized by scammers.

  • Never send money or personal information to an unknown person.
  • Never provide money or personal information to anyone without first verifying the source of the inquiry. Do not trust caller ID or assume the requester is truthful. Consult family or the police if there is any doubt as to the person’s identity.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited calls or emails, and treat every unsolicited communication with skepticism.
  • Delete emails immediately if the email asks for money or personal information.
  • Be skeptical when someone insists on receiving money via electronic transfer. These transactions often cannot be reversed.
  • If a caller issues threats or demands, try to stay calm and hang up the phone immediately.
  • Do not press buttons or allow a call transfer to a live person. This will increase the number of calls a consumer receives.
  • Take steps to discuss the dangers of these scams with individuals who may be susceptible to these sophisticated scams.

If a consumer believes they have provided personal information to a scammer resulting in identity theft, Attorney General John M. Formella recommends that they should take the following three steps:

  1. Place a fraud alert with each credit reporting bureau and review their credit reports.
    • Contact the fraud department of each of the three major credit bureaus to ask that a “fraud alert” be placed on file. Ask that no new credit be granted in their name without approval.
    • Request a free credit report to check whether any accounts were opened without consent.
    • Request that the bureaus remove inquiries and/or fraudulent accounts stemming from the theft. The fraud hot-line numbers and web sites are listed below:
      • Equifax: http://www.equifax.com. To order a credit report, call: 1-800-685-1111 (toll-free) or write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241. To report fraud, call: 1-800-525-6285 (toll free) and write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241. Hearing impaired call 1-800-685-1111.
      • Experian: http://www.experian.com. To order a credit report, call: 1-888-397-3742 (toll free) or write: P.O. Box 2002, Allen TX 75013. To report fraud, call: 1-888-397-3742 (toll free) and write: P.O. Box 9530, Allen TX 75013. TDD: 1-800-972-0322.
      • Trans Union: http://www.transunion.com. To order a credit report, call: 1-800-888-4213 (toll free) or write: P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022. To report fraud, call: 1-800-680-7289 (toll free) and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634. TDD: 1-877-553-7803.
  2. Close accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
    • Contact the security or fraud department of any credit card company, bank, and/or lender where credit has been fraudulently opened or used in the consumer’s name.
    • Close the fraudulent accounts and the legitimate accounts that have been fraudulently used.
    • Follow up each telephone conversation with a letter, outlining the extent of the fraudulent activity and reiterating the closure of the account.
    • Ask to be sent a copy of any fraudulent contracts or applications. This is an important step to prove that fraud occurred.
  3. Report the crime to local and federal authorities.
    • File a police report. A consumer can file a report with the local police, or the police where the fraudulent activity took place. The consumer should receive a copy of the police report in case a bank or credit card company needs proof of the crime at a later date.
    • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). To file a fraud complaint with the FTC, visit http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.htm.
    • New Hampshire residents should also file a formal complaint with the New Hampshire Department of Justice at http://doj.nh.gov/consumer/complaints/index.htm or the consumer hotline at 1-888-468-4454.

For more tips to avoid scams, consumers may want to consult the following resources:

For more New Hampshire consumer protection advice, consult the New Hampshire Department of Justice Consumer Sourcebook at https://www.doj.nh.gov/consumer/sourcebook/index.htm.

New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658