Common Scams

Common Scams

Customs and Border Protection Phone Scam

From the CBP website:

Telephone scammers are targeting residents nationwide to gain personal information that would bypass financial security protocols.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees are continuing to receive numerous calls from people concerned about unsolicited calls from scammers posing as U.S. Border Patrol agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

Would-be victims are reporting that the scammers are insistent that they must confirm certain details because CBP has intercepted a shipment of drugs with the “target’s” name and address and that cooperation is important to ensure the case is resolved.  If the target refuses to comply, the scammer threatens that the police will be arriving. When the scammer is asked for a name, he provides an actual CBP employee’s name and phone number available on the internet for the target to verify. Some scammers are even providing fake case numbers and badge numbers.  

A variation of this call is a pre-recorded message stating that a “shipment of drugs or money with your name on it and has been intercepted.” The target is then instructed to press #1 to speak with a CBP Officer/Agent.  When connected, the scammer then attempts to confirm the target’s banking information.

These calls, whether a pre-recorded message or live person, are phone scams/phishing attempts and residents are urged to not provide the caller with any information. The Department of Homeland Security and CBP does not solicit money over the phone.

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

  • CBP won’t 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? 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. Always.
  • Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can make their phone numbers look real even if they’re not.
  • Check with CBP if you’re unsure about whether a call or email is real. Never call back phone numbers in caller ID, or left in voicemails, emails, or social media messages. Instead, type the agency name into a search bar and click on their webpage to find contact information.

IRS Scams (3/31/2021)

There is an “IRS-impersonation” scam that is targeting individuals associated with educational institutions, specifically students and staff who have an “.edu” email address. The phishing emails seemingly come from “”, display an impressive, yet fake IRS logo and use various subject lines, such as “Tax Refund Payment” or “Recalculation of your tax refund payment.” The email directs the individual to click on a link and submit personal information to claim their tax refund.  Individuals who receive this scam email should NOT click on any link in the email.

The IRS asks that individuals who receive such an email to please send it to them.  For security reasons, they should not forward the email, rather they should save the email using “save as” and then send that as an attachment to phishing[at]irs[dot]gov or forward the email as an attachment to phishing[at]irs[dot]gov.

As a reminder, the IRS will NOT initiate email contact with a taxpayer without consentThe 2020 tax return is the first year that the IRS has included the option for the taxpayer to insert an email address. IF the taxpayer inserts an email address, the IRS may choose to send an email; however, any email from the IRS will NOT include links to claim a refund or ask for any secure information such as social security number, date of birth or bank account information.

If you receive an email that appears to be “from the IRS”, you should not click on any links or otherwise provide data.

Phone Scams

Do not be a victim of phone scams. A string of scams are taking place asking students to make payments over the phone for things such as taxes, hospital bills, bail money, debt collection, and utility bills. Scammers are also posing as USCIS or ICE agents who threaten deportation for various fraudulent violations unless the student pays fines and penalties using many methods, including gift cards, credit cards and sometimes using iTunes Gift Cards. Read more about App Store & iTunes Gift Card Scams.

If you have been a victim of a scam, you should contact the UMass Police Department (UMPD) at 413-545-2121 and report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) immediately!