Health care and the government are in the news lately, but they shouldn’t be on your phone. If someone calls you up and asks for personal information, don’t give it to them, even if the caller ID says “HHS Tips” or “Federal Government,” or the call appears to be coming from the 202 area code in Washington, DC. The people making these calls are impersonating the government.
What are these fake feds are asking for? Some recipients of these calls say they were hung up on after they confirmed their name to the caller. Others report being asked for sensitive personal information like the bank account and Social Security numbers.
The Department of Health and Human Services warns that it doesn’t use its phone tips number on caller ID. When the government needs information from you, the request will not come over the phone; you will typically receive a letter through the mail first. You know, the old-fashioned paper kind of mail.
If you receive one of these calls, report all of the information that you have about the call to the FTC using the online complaint wizard, or by calling 877-FTC-HELP. If the caller is impersonating the Department of Health and Human services, they’d like to hear about it, too: Call that agency’s hotline at 1-800-447-8477 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a basic government impostor scam, similar to IRS scams and jury duty scam. This version just wants your personal information instead of money by wire transfer or iTunes gift card.
Last year, the FCC convened a “Robocall Strike Force” that tasked the telecom industry with, among other things, creating a “Do Not Originate” list that would block calls at the source that appear to come from certain numbers, like federal government phones that can’t be used for making outside calls.
The Strike Force tested a version of this list using a list of numbers belonging to the IRS, and claimed that there was a noticeable decrease in reports of scam calls using spoofed IRS numbers.
The future of that project and the Strike Force, however, remain in question under the FCC’s new leadership.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.