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AG Stein: Be aware of immigration scams

An immigration scam is using Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) telephone numbers and several different types of scamming techniques to steal people’s money.

Here’s how the scam works, and what you should do if you’re contacted, reports North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.

The scammers will “spoof” the call to hide their identity by making it appear that they’re calling from phone numbers that belong to federal immigration authorities. Your caller ID may display a number that appears to be one of the following numbers:

– DHS HQ Operator: 202-282-8000

– DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: 202-401-1474

– DHS OIG Hotline: 1-800-323-8603

If you answer the call, the scammers may tell you that they represent the U.S. government or federal immigration authorities, such as the Department of Homeland Security. They may share that you or someone in your family has been a victim of identity theft or fraud or that a family member is being held under an immigration detainer as an excuse to get you to give or confirm personal or financial information. They may even threaten you with arrest or deportation if you refuse to share this information, or they may use the threat as a way to demand payment.

These calls can be scary, but no one from the federal government, law enforcement, or another government agency will contact you to threaten you with arrest, says the release. And the numbers mentioned above – the DHS OIG Hotline, HQ Operator, and CRCL lines – never make outgoing calls. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the federal government or DHS, do not provide any personal information or bank account details, and do not make a payment. Hang up – don’t continue the conversation.

If you think you have been the victim of this scam, call the DHS Hotline directly to verify any concerns. File a complaint with NCDOJ’s Consumer Protection Division (1-877-5-NO-SCAM) and ncdoj.gov/complaint. You can also call your cellphone provider and ask if they have a spam call-blocking app or service that can block unwanted calls.

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