Fraud Alert: DHS Warns of New Telephone Scam

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has issued a warning  in relation to a recent trend in telephone scams. The OIG warns that criminals are calling prospective victims and altering the caller ID number to appear as though the call originates from the DHS OIG hotline telephone number (1.800.323.8603). Stakeholders are cautioned against providing sensitive personal information or payment of any kind to anyone who purports to be calling from the DHS OIG hotline.

OIG Hotline Scam

The OIG warns that in this “spoofing” scam – that is, a scam that uses technology to alter the sender’s / caller’s originating eMail ID or number that appears on caller ID – the scammer demands personal information, supposedly to verify the identification of the prospective victim. Some of the scammers have even claimed that the recipient is already the victim of identity theft, and try to use this to get the individual to reveal personal information. This is troubling, as innocent people are divulging confidential information even though the government seldom telephones to ask for information.

The OIG urges individuals to be cautious when receiving telephone calls from any government organization. Also, the OIG never uses the hotline number to call individuals. If you receive a call from this number or any individual claiming to be part of the OIG hotline, do not provide any personal information.

Conclusion

The OIG hotline scam, while troubling, is just one more in a long line of scams perpetrated by unscrupulous individuals who pose as immigration officials in order to secure personal information and/or money from foreign nationals. For instance, scammers have been known to claim to be United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees to gain bank account information from victims. This is covered in more detail in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief USCIS Telephone Scam Alert (06.Nov.2012). The use of spoofing in immigration scams is not new, as discussed in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Immigration Scam: Be Cautious (16.Sep.2013). Individuals should always be wary and require written communication when receiving requests by telephone for personal information from anyone claiming to represent the U.S. government.

 

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.
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