The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a fraud alert on March 1 to warn the public that scammers are spoofing DHS telephone numbers to obtain personally identifiable information and extort money from victims. “[The perpetrators] alter caller ID systems to make it appear that the call is coming from the DHS HQ Operator number or the DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) number,” the alert explained. “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.” DHS OIG noted that “DHS never uses its HQ Operator or CRCL number to make outgoing calls of this nature.” The alert also said that it is still safe to place calls to DHS HQ Operator and CRCL numbers.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.