Unsolicited phone calls from people you don't know can be irritating. They always have horrible timing too, calling at the most inconvenient moment, like when your family is about to sit down for dinner.
Some of these calls aren't just annoying anymore, they're also malicious. There has been a rash of phone calls making the rounds lately where scammers try to trick victims into giving them sensitive data that could lead to massive financial losses.
That's why you need to know about these five phone scams so you can stay protected.
1. DHS OIG Hotline scam
The most recent scam hitting the phone lines deals with the U.S. government. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) just issued a fraud alert to warn citizens that the DHS OIG Hotline phone number is being used as part of a telephone spoofing scam. People from all across the country are being targeted.
The scammer pretends to be an employee with U.S. Immigration and alters the caller ID system to make it appear as if the call is coming from the DHS OIG Hotline number (1-800-323-8603). The fraudster demands that the victim verifies personal information through numerous tactics, including claiming they are victims of identity theft.
One important thing to remember is that DHS OIG NEVER uses its Hotline number to make outgoing calls. It's only used to receive information from the public, so you should not answer calls purporting to be from 1-800-323-8603.
If you receive a call claiming to be from the DHS OIG Hotline, do NOT provide personal information. The scammers are trying to get victims to reveal data like their Social Security number, credit or debit card info, date of birth, drivers license number and bank account information. They will use the data to drain your accounts and/or steal your identity.
DHS wants everyone to know that the DHS OIG Hotline continues to be safe to use to report fraud, waste, abuse or mismanagement within DHS components or programs.
If you believe that you may have already fallen victim to this phone spoofing scam you should call the Hotline or file a complaint online via the DHS OIG website. You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint and/or report identity theft.