The Office of Inspector General (OIG) under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning people of a nationwide telephone spoofing scam that attempts to trick victims into divulging their personal information, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft. On March 1, 2019, the OIG issued a notice in response to reports of DHS phone numbers being used to orchestrate the scam.
The scammers have been using a variety of tactics to target potential victims including emailing them from addresses ending in uscis.org and telling them that they are the victims of identity theft. In the fraud alert, the OIG noted several factors that could help people identify imposters. Many of the callers have pronounced accents. Additionally, they pretend to be U.S. Immigration agents or other government employees. Some scammers are posing as law enforcement officials who threaten victims with arrest if they fail to make a payment to them.
Spoofing consists of intentionally transmitting fake information to a caller ID system to hide an identity. The calls in the telephone spoofing scam seem to be from phone numbers that appear to belong to DHS or other trustworthy organizations. The scammers modify caller ID displays to convince potential victims that the call is from the DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) number or the DHS Headquarters Operator number.
The OIG notice stated that the situation is under investigation while reminding people to avoid sharing their personal information with anyone who calls from 202-40-1474 or 202-282-8000, the respective CRCL and DHS HQ Operator numbers. It also stressed that while phoning those numbers remains safe, they are never used for outgoing calls.
Individuals affected by the scam are being encouraged to phone the DHS OIG Hotline at 1-800-323-8603 or to file an online complaint on www.oig.dhs.gov. Complaints can also be filed with the Federal Trade Commission.