Scam Alert: Beware of scammers pretending to be federal agents

A new phone scam is targeting neighbors across New York. This time, the scammers pretend to be federal agents, as a means to get access to your Social Security numbers.

The Better Business Bureau has fielded numerous complaints from confused and frightened people who were on the receiving end of phone calls where the caller used threatening and forceful tones to try to force people to give up personal information.

The calls may seem legitimate.

The BBB says the scammers use tricks including spoofing, where the Caller ID appears to be from a specific area code.

In some cases, victims are called repetitively.

In one such situation, an Erie County woman was skeptical after a man (using a Washington DC area code) called her to say there had been an "incident with her social security number." The BBB says she hung up, only to be called more.

At one point, the scammer left a message threatening her for "messing with a federal agent."

The BBB reminds people to beware of anyone who claims to be from a federal agency and calls demanding money.

The government says it would never ask for payments through wire transfer or a prepaid card. If anything, real federal agents would use the mail to alert you.

Do not trust callers who use threats and bullying as a scare tactic.

And if you do feel threatened, call police right away.