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BBB warns of U.S. Customs and Border Protection scam


The Better Business Bureau (BBB) this week issued an alert about a new spin on an old con that involves scammers impersonating U.S. Customs and Border Protection. BBB says its Scam Tracker has received 26 reports of encounters with such a scam with reports including two versions of the scheme.

Last year, the BBB said fake package delivery notifications were the big scam. This year, scammers have changed the game. Instead of posting as mail carriers or package delivery worker, the BBB said they’re impersonating U.S. Customs and Border Protection and they claim to have intercepted a package addressed to the victim. 

The BBB outlined how the scam works:

The suspicious package scheme: You receive a call, email or text saying U.S. Customs and Border Protection has intercepted a suspicious package addressed to you. You’re instructed to respond immediately, or a warrant will be issued for your arrest. When you reach out, you learn they seized the package because it contained drugs, weapons, cash or other contraband. They ask for your personal information in order to “verify your identity,” but it’s just a ruse to steal your identity. 

The sweepstakes scheme: In another version of this scam, you’re once again contacted by someone claiming to be associated with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This time, they don’t threaten you with arrest. Instead, they claim to have intercepted a package containing a massive sweepstakes prize. To receive your winnings, you need to pay a huge fee for special shipping labels.

Officials say not to be fooled by these tactics. Hang up or ignore the message, said a warning issued by U.S Customs and Border Protection, then report the experience to the FTC. “It’s just a scammer trying to gain access to your personal information and bank accounts.”

The BBB also provided these tips on how to avoid U.S. Customs and Border Protection Impostors:

  • No matter who they say they are, stay cautious, and don’t give out your personal information.
  • Government agencies typically reach out by mail, so they’re unlikely to contact you by phone, email and text. 
  • Multiple consumers state the scammer provided a name and badge number, but it’s just an attempt to gain your trust.
  • The sweepstakes angle is just a ploy to get your attention. No matter how convincing they sound, you unfortunately haven’t won anything.
  • When you learn about new scam tactics, tell people, especially those you believe may be susceptible. The more people are aware of these scams, the fewer victims there will be.

For more information, read about the warning signs of a phishing scam.

If you encounter a scam, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker

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