Scammers impersonate United States Customs and Border Protection

Did the US Border Patrol call you? No, they didn’t. But a crook could have. In fact, scammers often pretend to belong to government agencies to trick you into sending them money or sharing personal information.

The latest twist involves imposters posing as US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agents. Here’s how the ruse could play out. The scammers send you a recorded message stating that illegal items have been shipped in your name and have been intercepted. Or they could speak of a “diplomatic bag”. Or tell you that a warrant for your arrest has been issued. They will ask you to pay for more information using cryptocurrency, gift cards, or bank transfers, or tell you to give them your bank account or social security number. Don’t. It’s a scam.

If you receive a call like this, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • CBP will not 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? To 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. Still.
  • Don’t rely on caller ID. Scammers can make their phone numbers look real even though they aren’t.
  • Check with CBP if you are unsure if a call or email is real. Never call back phone numbers in caller ID or left in voicemails, emails, or social media posts. Instead, type the agency’s name into a search bar and click on their webpage to find contact information.

For more information on these types of scams, visit ftc.gov/imposters. And if you spot this, or any other scam, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

About Sandra A. Powell

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