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Tong warns CT residents about increasing scam calls

State Attorney General William Tong
Molly Ingram
State Attorney General William Tong

If it seems like you’ve been receiving more scam calls than usual, you may be right. Not only are the calls increasing in volume, they’re becoming more sophisticated.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost more than $2.5 billion to imposter scams in 2022. Data from 2023 is not yet available.

But Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said the number will be higher when last year’s data comes out.

Scammers are now “spoofing” phone numbers — that means they can make it seem like they are calling from a bank or government office.

“If you get a call from the city of Stamford tax collector saying ‘you owe your car tax for this year, please give us your credit card number,’ that is a scam and is not legal,” Tong said. “The city of Stamford is never going to do that, the town of Fairfield is never going to do that. Eversource, United Illuminating your local electric utility, Aquarion, will never call you and ask you to pay a past bill on the spot.”

Instead, he recommends hanging up and contacting the agency directly.

And, according to Tong, nobody is too smart to fall for a phishing scam.

“I failed an in-house security test at my desk,” Tong said. “In the attorney general's office, my IT manager came in and told me after I clicked on a link in an email, ‘Mr. AG you failed an internal security test because you clicked on a link and that could have been a phishing scam.’”

He also warned against trying to “scam the scammer.”

“You should assume they are always a step ahead,” Tong said. “They're always working some angle, and while you're on the phone with them, they could be recording your voice and later using AI to impersonate you. They could be eliciting information from you that you don't think you're otherwise giving.”

If you are scammed, be sure to report it on the attorney general's website.

Tong said they can’t promise you’ll get your money back, but reporting the crime could help his office find the scammer.

“Although it's very hard to help people when the money's gone because usually, these are criminals in criminal enterprises that are outside of Connecticut and outside of our country, we have been successful at times and recovering money,” Tong said. “And we do want to try to stop these bad actors.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.