Washington, D.C.–The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General has issued a fraud alert to warn people of reports that the department telephone numbers have been used recently as part of a spoofing scam targeting individuals throughout the country.
Spoofing is the deliberate falsifying of information transmitted to a caller ID display to disguise an identity.
The perpetrators of the scam represent themselves as employees with “U.S. Immigration” or other government entities. They alter caller ID systems to make it appear that the call is coming from the Homeland Security Office Operator number (202-282-8000) or the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties number (202-401-1474). The scammers obtain or verify personally identifiable information from their victims through various tactics, including by telling individuals that they are the victims of identity theft. They also pose as law enforcement or immigration officials and threaten victims with arrest unless they make payments to the scammers using a variety of methods. They have also emailed victims from email addresses ending in “uscis.org.” Many of the scammers reportedly have pronounced accents.
The Department of Homeland Security said it never uses its headquarter operator or Civil Rights and Civil Liberties number to make outgoing calls of this nature. Individuals receiving phone calls from these numbers should not provide any personal information. It continues to be perfectly safe to place calls to the department’s operator.
Federal authorities are investigating the incident.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this telephone spoofing scam is urged to call the DHS OIG Hotline (1-800-323-8603) or file a complaint online at website www.oig.dhs.gov. You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint and/or report identity theft.