If you look at your caller ID and see that you’re receiving a call from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Hotline, be wary because you most likely are dealing with a scam.
Targeting citizens throughout the U.S., scammers are not only spoofing the HHS Hotline number, but they are also posing as HHS OIG Hotline employees. Scammers are reeling in victims by informing them that they have qualified or have been approved for a grant. More often than not, the targeted victim NEVER applied for the grant.
Scammers are feeding citizens empty promises to obtain a victim’s personal information so they can steal money or commit other fraudulent activity under the victim’s name.
Listen to your instincts, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! The HHS Hotline does not make outgoing calls. So, if you receive a call from 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477), hang up immediately.
HHS.gov provides a list of all too familiar red flag scripts:
- “This grant/scholarship is guaranteed or your money back.”
- “You can’t get this information anywhere else.”
- “I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this grant/scholarship.”
- “We’ll do all the work. You just pay a processing fee.”
- “The grant/scholarship will just cost you a one-time fee.”
- “You’ve been selected” or “you are eligible” to receive a grant/scholarship.
Before you get roped into this scam, here are a few more things to keep in mind that will protect you from these scammers:
- Do not give personal or financial information to unknown callers. The HHS will never request payment or personal and/or financial information over the phone.
- Government grants are free. If you have been told to pay before you can claim your “free” government grant, it is not a government grant. Any type of government-related grant will not ask recipients to pay a processing fee for the grant.
- Confirm legitimate government agencies. If you receive an unexpected call from the HHS Hotline claiming to be an employee, confirm the agency and employee before continuing the conversation. Check the credibility of the caller at USA.gov or by calling the agency directly to confirm the caller’s claims.
- Download a caller ID and call blocking app. To help prevent spam, scam, and robocalls from getting into your phone, use a call protection app to help filter pesky HHS Hotline scammers from targeting you as their next victim.
- Report scams to the FCC. If you have been contacted or believe you have been a victim of the HHS Hotline scam or any type of government grant scam, contact the FCC to help raise awareness and prevent others from becoming a victim.