Wisconsin Attorney General Urges FTC to Create Robust Rule Outlawing Impersonation Scams

Attorney General Josh Kaul, as part of a bipartisan coalition of 49 attorneys general, has called on the Federal Trade Commission to adopt a national rule to target impersonation scams.

Attorneys general serve as the front-line defense against impersonation scams, seeing first-hand the pervasive problem these acts create for consumers, small businesses, and charities in their states. “It’s encouraging that the FTC is taking this issue up,” said AG Kaul. “Imposter
scams are a leading source of consumer fraud around the country, and FTC rules would help efforts to hold scammers accountable.”

As illustrated in the letter, impersonation scams take on many forms:

Impersonation of government entities: Fraudsters claim to be from or affiliated with a government agency to persuade victims of the urgency to provide payment to obtain licensing or certificates in document preparation or regulatory compliance scams.

Business impersonation: These are scams in which fraudsters claim to be working directly for an actual business or as a third party endorsed by the business. Common examples include tech scams in which the imposters claim they are contacting the victim on behalf of companies such as Microsoft or Apple to assist with a ransomware or technology issue.

Person-to-person deceptions: Grandparent scams, romance scams and others use personal information to make a connection with victims. Whether claiming a grandchild is in urgent need of money or creating a fake profile to gain the trust of someone on a social media or dating site, these impersonation scams account for thousands of complaints to attorneys general each year.

“There is a pressing need for FTC rulemaking to address the scourge of impersonation scams impacting consumers across the United States,” the letter states. “A national rule that encompasses and outlaws such commonly experienced scams discussed [in our letter] would assist Attorneys General and their partners in reducing consumer harm, maximizing consumer benefits, and holding bad actors to account.”