HOUSTON – Telephone scammers are targeting residents nationwide to gain personal information that would bypass financial security protocols.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees are continuing to receive numerous calls from people concerned about unsolicited calls from scammers posing as U.S. Border Patrol agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.
“We are seeing a spike of phone calls from concerned citizens about scammers posing as CBP employees seeking information about suspected illegal activity,” said CBP Houston Director of Field Operations Jud Murdock. “If CBP suspects illegal activity, we will not call a suspect or a victim requesting money or social security numbers. To be clear, CBP will not make telephone calls threatening citizens that law enforcement is on the way or promising money for information. Anyone receiving a call from U.S. Customs and Border Protection about a shipment of drugs or money should recognize that it is a scam regardless of how authentic the caller may sound.”
Would-be victims are reporting that the scammers are insistent that they must confirm certain details because CBP has intercepted a shipment of drugs with the “target’s” name and address and that cooperation is important to ensure the case is resolved. If the target refuses to comply, the scammer threatens that the police will be arriving. When the scammer is asked for a name, he provides an actual CBP employee’s name and phone number available on the internet for the target to verify. Some scammers are even providing fake case numbers and badge numbers.
A variation of this call is a pre-recorded message stating that a “shipment of drugs or money with your name on it and has been intercepted.” The target is then instructed to press #1 to speak with a CBP Officer/Agent. When connected, the scammer then attempts to confirm the target’s banking information.
These calls, whether a pre-recorded message or live person, are phone scams/phishing attempts and residents are urged to not provide the caller with any information. The Department of Homeland Security and CBP does not solicit money over the phone.
If you get a call like this, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- CBP won’t call you out of the blue with promises of money or threats. Is the caller asking you to pay a fee or share your Social Security, credit card, or bank account numbers over the phone? Hang up. It’s a scam.
- CBP never uses gift cards, cryptocurrency, or wire transfers. If someone asks you to pay this way, it’s a scam. Always.
- Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can make their phone numbers look real even if they’re not.
- Check with CBP if you’re unsure about whether a call or email is real. Never call back phone numbers in caller ID, or left in voicemails, emails, or social media messages. Instead, type the agency name into a search bar and click on their webpage to find contact information.
Anyone receiving any type of call from someone claiming to be from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and seeking any type of personal information, should just hang up. Phone scams can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission online.