Scam artists will stop at nothing to get your personal information or your money. One of the latest scams manipulates caller identification to look like the call is coming from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG).
The number used is the HHS OIG hotline number that people are encouraged to call when reporting fraud. The OIG Hotline accepts tips and complaints from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in Department of Health and Human Services’ programs.
HHS OIG recently confirmed that their hotline number is being used by scam artists to target people throughout the country.
The scam artists use what is called ‘spoofing’ which manipulates the information coming through caller ID. The name and telephone number reads HHS OIG Hotline 800-477-8477.
The website oig.hhs.gov reported “The perpetrator may use various tactics to obtain or verify the victim’s personal information, which can then be used to steal money from an individual’s bank account or for other fraudulent activity. HHS OIG takes this matter seriously. We are actively investigating this matter and intend to have the perpetrators prosecuted.”
HHS OIG will not use the hotline telephone number to make outgoing calls. They warn citizens not to answer incoming calls from that number. Furthermore HHS OIG warns the public, “to remain vigilant, protect their personal information, and guard against providing personal information during calls that purport to be from the HHS OIG Hotline telephone number.”
However it is still safe to call in to the hotline number to report fraudulent use of HHS programs. “We particularly encourage those who believe they may have been a victim of the telephone spoofing scam to report that information to us through the HHS OIG Hotline 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477).”
In order to protect yourself from any scam it is always important to remember not to give out personal information to anyone you don’t know. Reputable businesses do not call you asking for personal information or account numbers. Never give out a social security number, date of birth, credit card information, driver’s license number, bank account information, mother’s maiden name or any other personnel information to anyone who calls you claiming to be from a creditor, government agency or someone selling merchandise. Do not verify your name or any other personal information. Be extremely cautious.
If you have accounts with creditors to settle it is best to call them using official phone numbers found on correspondence from them.
If you are a victim of the telephone spoofing scam, contact the HHS OIG Hotline or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, be sure to include date and time you received the scam call and any other details from the scam call you can remember.
Linda Farneth is a Westmoreland News reporter.