U.S. Customs and Border Protection warns people of scammers pretending to be federal employees

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Protect your identity during the holidays
The moment you find out your credit card or social security number has been compromised, you have to act fast to stop the damage.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection is warning citizens to beware of phone scammers seeking personal information while posing as employees for the federal agency.

The video featured above is from a previous report on what to do if your credit card numbers are stolen.

CBP says it continues to receive several reports from people concerned about the unsolicited calls regarding "suspected illegal activity."

While pretending to be a border patrol agent or officer, the scammer will insist the victim confirm specific details because CBP has "intercepted a shipment of drugs" with their name and address, noting that cooperation is important to ensure the case is resolved.

If the target refuses to comply, the scammer allegedly threatens them, saying the police will arrive.

"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," CBP Houston Director of Field Operations Jud Murdock reminds people.

When the scammer is asked for a name, officials say they provide an actual CBP employee's name and phone number available online for the victim to verify.

Some scammers, CBP says, will even provide fake case and badge numbers.

The agency said a variation of this call includes a pre-recorded message stating the same reason followed by an instruction to dial the number one to speak with a CBP officer or agent.

The scammer will then try to confirm the victim's banking information.

Authorities say these calls, whether a pre-recorded message or live person, are scams or phishing attempts, and personal information should not be provided.

If you get a call like this, here are a few things officials say 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.

You can report a phone scam through the Federal Trade Commission website.

SEE ALSO: Harris County Pct. 1 constable spreads awareness of jury duty scam calls

Officials warn Harris County residents about a scammer who calls people telling them they've missed their federal grand jury duty date.