Throughout this year, there have been several reports that people are being contacted by USCIS, ICE, or the Department of Homeland Security and being asked to provide personal information and large payments in order to avoid deportation or other issues with immigration.
In March, USCIS issued a fraud alert informing the public that such calls are fraudulent and that USCIS, ICE, DHS, and other government organizations would never contact you by phone and ask you to verify personal information. Official notices regarding immigration will always come by mail, and USCIS will only ask you to verify personal information if you call them to discuss your case or immigration status.
According to USCIS, the most recently compromised phone numbers (as of November 2019) are 202-357-8100 and 1-855-882-8100, which are both numbers for the USCIS Ombudsman’s Office. Main DHS lines 202-282-8000 and 202-401-1474 were also used in the scam earlier this year. Reports say that these calls have been showing up on caller IDs as “DHS HQ Operator” and “DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.” Some individuals have also reported being contacted via email from an address ending with “uscis.org,” instead of the correct “uscis.gov.”
The scam is said to target immigrants by falsely reporting that the individual’s identity has been stolen or compromised and that they need to provide their information in order to verify their identity and avoid arrest or deportation. In many cases, the fraudulent caller requests payment over the phone.
It is important to know that the Department of Homeland Security does not make outgoing calls of this nature from their main phone lines. They will also never call with these kinds of threats or requests; they will always send letters and issue multiple official warnings in writing. If a call such as this is received, the recipient should hang up and call the police or fraud hotline to report it.