Fraud Alert: DHS Phone Numbers Used in Extortion Scam to Obtain Personal Information

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Our Regional Immigration Counsel provides the following news of recent scam attempts that pose a potential threat to our clients’ consumer protection:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued a fraud alert to warn the public of reports that DHS telephone numbers have been used recently as part of a caller spoofing scam targeting individuals nationwide by impersonating DHS or other authorities. 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 DHS HQ Operator number (202-282-8000) or the DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) 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. The scammers 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. The scammers have also emailed victims from email addresses ending in “uscis.org.” Many of the scammers reportedly have pronounced accents.

USCIS urges the public to avoid immigration scams and to ensure the person helping them is authorized to give legal advice. The agency appreciates everyone who helps inform the public about how to avoid immigration scams, report fraud, and find authorized legal services.

You can report immigration scams by contacting the FTC. Please visit the USCIS Avoid Scams Initiative website to learn more about avoiding immigration scams and reporting fraud.

BayLegal also echoes these calls for caution when dealing with anyone requesting personal information by telephone or online. Always seek verified legal assistance before responding to any contact of this kind.