U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) today warned New Yorkers about a new telephone scam that targets immigrants with threats of deportation.
The scheme consists of fraudsters utilizing a practice known as "spoofing," in which fake names and phone numbers are displayed on recipients' caller IDs in order to trick them into answering the phone.
When unsuspecting individuals pick up the call, the scammer poses as an official from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and asks for personal information such as a Social Security number, passport number or alien registration number (A-number). The con artist then says a payment is necessary to fix problems with their immigration record. Often times, the scammer threatens the victim with deportation if they do not pay.
"If people receive a call from somebody claiming to be a USCIS official, they should absolutely not provide any personal information," said Meng. "If the caller asks for money, they should hang up immediately. These are not government officials trying to correct a problem. They are con artists trying to rip people off. The public should know that USCIS never asks for any payments or personal information over the phone. The public should be on guard against this outrageous scam, and not fall victim to it."
In December, Meng introduced the Anti-Spoofing Act to crack down on spoofing, which is widely used by con artists as well as unscrupulous telemarketers. They use technology to disguise their numbers and identities to make their calls appear legitimate. Fraudsters use it to obtain personal or financial information by misrepresenting themselves as not only government agencies, but hospitals, banks, pharmacies and credit card companies.
The Congresswoman's bill would tighten the Truth in Caller ID Act to ensure that penalties are imposed on all those who use caller ID to misrepresent themselves in order to obtain personal or financial information.
Those who have been a victim of the above telephone scam should report it to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/, or contact local law enforcement. Constituents concerned about their immigration record, can contact Meng's office at 718-445-7860 or USCIS at http://www.uscis.gov.