OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor joined a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general that is calling upon the Federal Trade Commission to enact a national rule targeting impersonation scams.
The coalition is comprised of 49 attorneys general, with AGs from Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Tennessee leading the effort.
A letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) raised concerns about the deluge of impersonation scams aimed at consumers and the absence of a rule that protects Americans by outlawing such fraudulent acts.
“Impersonation scams impact millions of Americans including consumers here in Oklahoma,” O’Connor said. “I am proud to join this coalition to urge the FTC to establish a national rule to target these scams.”
The letter states that a rule outlawing impersonation scams should do the following:
- Deter bad actors and reduce consumer harm.
- Provide needed clarity on what conduct constitutes impersonation, since government and business impersonation scams can range from overt pretense to misleading subtlety.
- Deprive bad actors of the excuse that they were allegedly not aware their activities were illegal in some jurisdictions as opposed to others.
- Provide more opportunities for the states to collaborate with the FTC on multistate enforcement actions against imposter scammers.
- Allow states to enforce their own standards, free of any preemption by a federal rule.
The letter referenced the following types of impersonation scams:
Impersonation of government entities, which occurs when fraudsters say they are from or affiliated with a government agency to create a sense of urgency and coax victims into providing payment to obtain licensing or certificates in document preparation or regulatory compliance scams.
Business impersonation is a scam in which a fraudster claims to work for an actual business or as a third party endorsed by the business. Examples include tech scams in which the imposter pretends to contact the victim on behalf of a company such as Microsoft or Apple to assist with a ransomware or technology issue.
Person-to-person deceptions are scams also known as grandparent scams and romance scams, among others. Fraudsters behind these scams use personal information to create a connection with victims. Examples of such scams include claiming a grandchild is in urgent need of money or creating a fake social media or dating site profile to gain someone’s trust. Attorneys general receive thousands of complaints each year about this type of scam.
Impersonation scams cause harm in a number of ways, including causing consumers to lose money, draining resources from regulators responsible for protecting the public and causing confusion and loss of trust in government agencies and services, according to the Oklahoma AG’s office.
“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.”
The letter also calls upon the FTC to publish additional consumer and business education materials to protect consumers from becoming impersonation fraud victims.
“The attorneys general hope to continue working with the FTC and other partners to sound the alarm on impersonation scams,” the letter states.