Recipients also are being pressured for money to avoid arrest.
Americans across the country have reported receiving phone calls and emails recently from various offices within the Homeland Security Department asking the recipient to verify personal information or provide immediate payment to avoid arrest. These calls and emails are scams, according to the Office of the Inspector General, which issued an alert Friday.
According to the IG alert, citizens have been notifying Homeland Security of incoming calls from department headquarters and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in which purported employees of “U.S. Immigration” say the person is the victim of identity theft and asks for personally identifiable information. The true origins of those calls are being altered by scammers through a method known as spoofing.
“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 alert states.
The alert also warns of similar emails circulating with addresses ending in “uscis.org,” an imposter of the domain used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, uscis.gov.
Because spoofing merely masks the true identity of the caller, there is no compromise of the Homeland Security phone system, meaning calls going to headquarters or other offices will still reach the intended officials, the IG confirmed. However, people should be wary of any unanticipated calls coming from those numbers.
“While we investigate the situation, we would like to remind the public that DHS never uses its HQ Operator or [Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties] number to make outgoing calls of this nature,” the IG said in a statement.
Homeland Security officials asked anyone receiving such calls or emails—or anything similarly out of place—contact the OIG Hotline at 1-800-323-8603 or file a complaint through oig.dhs.gov.