Kusserow on Compliance: OIG hotline being used by scammers

The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) accepts hotline complaints by mail, telephone, fax, or online. However, the office emphasizes that it does not use its phone number for outgoing calls. The OIG has issued a Fraud Alert reporting that its Hotline telephone number is being used as part of a telephone “spoofing” scam targeting individuals throughout the country.  The office reported engaging in a criminal investigation of this activity and intends to present cases against perpetrators to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for prosecution.   It explained that scammers have been altering the appearance of the caller ID to make it seem as if the call is coming from the HHS OIG Hotline, 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477). Scammers call individuals and represent themselves as HHS OIG Hotline employees and use a variety of tactics to obtain personal information, which can then be used to steal money from an individual’s bank account or for other fraudulent activity.

The OIG warns the public to be on guard and not to provide personal information to callers. Those who believe they may have been a victim of this spoofing scam should report that information to the HHS OIG Hotline or spoof@oig.hhs.gov. Complaints may also be submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) via 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).  The OIG also made clear that it is still safe to call into the HHS OIG Hotline to report fraud; information it receives is evaluated by the Office of Investigations, which has 420 Special Agents throughout the country who are specially trained to conduct these investigations.

OIG tips to protect yourself

Do not verify your name or any other personal information to anyone unknown to you. no personal information should be given to unknown individuals, including any of the following information:

  • Social Security number;
  • date of birth;
  • credit card information;
  • driver’s license number;
  • bank account information; or
  • mother’s maiden name.

Richard P. Kusserow served as DHHS Inspector General for 11 years. He currently is CEO of Strategic Management Services, LLC (SM), a firm that has assisted more than 3,000 organizations and entities with compliance related matters. The SM sister company, CRC, provides a wide range of compliance tools including sanction-screening.

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Copyright © 2017 Strategic Management Services, LLC. Published with permission.