New scheme appears to use fraud phone line to get data

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The phone number of a hotline being used by Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services apparently is being used by scammers to get personal data from individuals who believe they are talking to OIG staff.

The OIG hotline accepts tips and complaints about potential fraud and mismanagement involving HHS programs, which OIG investigates.

However, HHS now is warning consumers that scammers are altering the numbers that appear on caller ID devices; when the criminals call, devices display the HHS hotline phone number (1-800-HHS-TIPS). Victims who accept the calls are at risk for giving the scammers personal information that can be used to raid a bank account or perform other fraudulent activity.

The OIG affirms that it does not use the hotline number to make outgoing calls; the agency is advising consumers not to answer phone calls that purportedly come from HHS. The agency further is emphasizing that it remains safe to call the hotline to report fraud or mismanagement, and it particularly encourages those who may have been victimized by the phone call hoax to contact the agency by directly calling the hotline.

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The agency counsels consumers to not provide information over the phone to a person posing as from HHS, such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, credit card numbers, driver license numbers, bank account numbers or mother’s maiden names.

When calling HHS to report fraud, include date and time you received the phone call and details about the call. Individuals also can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

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