Recognize Scammers Who Pretend to Be from the Government

Consumer Alerts from the Federal Trade Commission

You know those posters businesses must hang up with information about labor laws? You can get them for free from the U.S. Department of Labor. If someone tries to charge you for them, it’s a scam. And this is only one way government imposters try to trick small business owners.

Other ways scammers impersonate the government to con your small business

Scammers contact you and say they’re with a government agency. They threaten to fine you, sue you or suspend your license if you don’t pay them.

Some scammers send letters that look like they’re from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The letters threaten severe consequences: “Pay immediately or lose your trademarks.”

Others lie and say you can pay to get access to government grants for your business.

What to do

No matter the threats, verify the claim before you pay. Contact the government agency directly to find out if the story is true.

Spot scams that target small businesses

This is a free service provided by the Federal Trade Commission  (

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