A new phone scam is preying on public suspicion and fear, according to a news release.

If you receive a call from someone who identifies themself as an official of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and that person tells you that your Social Security number was used to obtain a passport, hang up. It’s just the latest telephone scam, says Justin Lavelle.

Lavelle, chief communications officer for Been Verified, is an expert in phone scams. He says there are red flags that will help you avoid becoming a victim of this latest phone scam.

Lavelle advises that if the caller tells you that you face possible prosecution if you don’t cooperate immediately, it’s a scam. No legitimate agency will threaten you on the phone in order to secure your cooperation.

He also says that if the caller tells you not to tell anyone else what the two of you discuss, it’s a scam. Law enforcement officials will not enter into a conspiratorial relationship with menbers of the public they ask for information.

If you see an area code or toll-free number displayed on your Caller ID that looks suspicious, Lavelle says, you should do an internet search or look it up on reverse phone look-up apps. Chances are that you are not the first victim to receive such a call, Lavelle says, and other victims may have reported that same number online as a scam.

If the caller asks you to use gift cards to transfer money to him, Lavelle says its a scam. He says a U.S. Customs and Border Control agent would not make such a request from a member of the public.

If you still are not certain that the call is a scam, Lavelle says you should ask the caller for his name and that of his organization, then hang up and verify the information by calling the organization directly. Trusting someone to identify themselves over the telephone is a sure way to lose your money, your identity and your sense of safety, he says.

For further information, visit www.BeenVerified.com.