Fraudulent Phone Call Alert

There have been a variety of phone call scams over time that target newcomers.  These fraudulent calls are aimed at scamming people to steal their identity or gain access to their finances. As resettlement staff, we have a responsibility to warn our clients about these phone call scams so they do not get tricked into revealing personal information.

Our contacts at the Department of Labor recently alerted Higher to a new scam: within the past few weeks, there have been reports of phone calls made from a Department of Labor phone number (202-693-2700) soliciting personal information or promising funds to those receiving the calls.

Higher is reporting that the Department of Labor has not authorized any of these calls. Please let your clients know that the Department of Labor does not and will not solicit personally identifiable information, such as Social Security numbers, over the phone.

Tell your clients that if they receive a call from anyone they do not know requesting personal information, they should consider it a spam call and hang up. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers helpful information about protecting yourself against fraud of all types; for more information, please visit their Scam Watch.

The FTC tracks and investigates fraud cases that are perpetuated by telephone. Anyone who has been targeted by the recent telephone scam should file a complaint with the FTC.The online complaint form is available in English and Spanish.

If you have multiple clients receiving calls from the DOL number, you should report the situation by calling the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-855-522-6748.

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Multilingual Resources to Help Avoid Scams

ftc scamWhen clients bring in mail from Publishers Clearinghouse so you can help them claim their $2,000,000, the answer is obvious.  If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.  Other scams – like jobs you have to pay for or calls from the IRS – can be harder to address until it’s too late.

Now, with help from IRC Silver Spring, the Federal Trade Commission has developed resources to help newly arrived refugees spot, avoid and report scams.  Handbooks and posters are available in English, Amharic, Arabic, Dari, French, Somali and Spanish.  Click here to download all of these free resources.

Here’s what happened according to Kate Christman, Cultural Orientation Coordinator with IRC Silver Spring.


Clear, simple language in one free downloadable poster.

The FTC was working on a project to help communities that are especially vulnerable and may not be knowledgeable about their rights or tips for avoiding scams. They reached out to the IRC for assistance.  Our goal was to distill and simplify their wealth of information and materials into something more accessible for refugees and immigrants. They toured our office and attended a cultural orientation to get a better background on refugee populations. We had lengthy discussions help them get a sense of what refugees struggled with in the US. They talked with caseworkers about what scams they thought refugees were most susceptible. Then they drafted the pamphlet and we worked through a few details before they had it translated.

IRC Silver Spring includes the information in their cultural orientation, has translated versions of the posters around their offices and makes the handbooks available for clients, too.

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