On March 1st, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General issued a fraud alert to the public warning that DHS telephone numbers were recently used as part of a “telephone spoofing scam.” According to DHS, “spoofing is the deliberate falsifying of information transmitted to a caller ID display to disguise an identity.”
How Does This Scam Work?
Scammers will represent themselves as employees with “U.S. Immigration” or other government entities over the telephone. To do this, scammers change caller ID systems so that the person receiving the call thinks it’s coming from the DHS HQ Operator number (202-282-8000) or the DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) number (202-401-1474).
Scammers obtain or verify personally identifiable information from victims through the following methods:
- Telling people they are the victims of identity theft.
- Posing as law enforcement or immigration officials.
- Threatening victims with arrest unless they make payments to the scammers.
- Emailing victims from an email address that ends in “uscis.org.”
DHS reports that many of the callers involved in this scam have “pronounced accents,” and reminds the public that:
- DHS never uses its HQ Operator or CRCL number to make outgoing calls of this nature.
- If you get a phone call from an HQ Operator or CRCL number, make sure you don’t give away any of your personal information.
- It is still safe to call the DHS HQ Operator and CRCL numbers.
If you think you or someone you know might be a victim of this telephone spoofing scam, you should immediately call the DHS OIG Hotline at: 1-800-323-8603. You can also file an online compliant at: https://www.oig.dhs.gov/.
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