WASHINGTON — A fraud alert has been issued by the Homeland Security Department’s Office of Inspector General after scammers altered caller ID systems to make it appear they were calling from an official phone number.
The callers claimed to be from “U.S. Immigration,” told victims they had been affected by identity theft, and then asked victims to provide or confirm personal information.
The calls were made to appear as if they were coming from the hotline number for Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, 1-800-323-8603. (The office is the department’s independent oversight arm, and the hotline is used to receive calls about fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement.)
“This came to our attention from individuals who had actually been victims of this scam,” said the office’s Diana Shaw.
She said the hotline received a flood of calls in mid-March, with the callers asking why they had been contacted and asked personal questions. People throughout the country were targeted.
The scammers are said to have “pronounced accents.”
In general, Shaw said, the office does not ask for personal information over the phone. The hotline is never used to make outgoing calls, and it remains safe for incoming callers.
Those who believe they may be a victim are urged to call the hotline or file a complaint through the Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General website.
Shaw said that her office is aware of a similar issue involving scammers that also recently affected the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this telephone spoofing scam is urged to call the Hotline or file a complaint online via the DHS OIG website. The Federal Trade Commission is also another way to file a complaint and/or report identity theft.