Phone call scams are on the rise. In addition to scam artists posing as employees of utility companies (see Privacy Tip #84), the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has issued a warning to consumers about a phone scam involving imposters of its agency.

The imposters call consumers saying they are from the OIG and that the consumer is eligible to receive a federal grant because they paid their taxes on time. The callers have spoofed the OIG 800-number to make the call look legitimate. The 800-number (1-800-447-8477) is the actual OIG hotline number to report potential fraud. The gall of these guys.

The scammers sound official and tell the consumer that they must verify their identity so they can quality for the grant. They ask the consumer to verify their personal information, including Social Security number and bank account number. They are advised that they need to pay a processing fee, and get payment information over the phone.

The criminals not only scam consumers into paying the fee, but because they are getting all of the consumer’s personal information, they can then open up credit card accounts and get into people’s bank accounts.

The OIG says that it does not make unsolicited telephone calls to consumers, and reminds consumers not to give their personal information, including their Social Security number or bank account number to anyone over the phone.