City of Las Cruces officials are warning residents to be wary of fraudulent telephone calls and text messages claiming to be from City government.
At least two residents have received fake calls, which appeared on their caller ID devices, while others have reportedly been sent text messages. When the calls were answered, the residents were told of outstanding credit card debt of a family member, and they were directed to send money. The bogus text messages referred people to false links to make utility bill payments. The perpetrators were clearly trying to fraudulently collect money from citizens.
The City of Las Cruces Information Technology Department believes the perpetrators have spoofed the caller ID system by changing the identification of telephone numbers to numbers they choose to use. Often, phone marketing or fraudulent organizations will provide illegitimate caller ID numbers when making calls to victims. That practice is like email phishing campaigns, when the information is spoofed from the sender.
Residents are reminded that regardless of the number that could appear on a caller ID, the City of Las Cruces does not make these types of calls. The only notification used by the City is an email sent to utility customers who have elected to use electronic billing.
People are strongly urged not give out personal or financial information on the phone, or click on links to text messages.
As a precaution, the City’s Information Technology staff is following up with city government’s phone vendor to ensure the offending calls are not being routed through the City’s telephone system.
Victims who have lost money or have had their personal or financial information compromised should call Central Dispatch, 575/526-0795, and ask to speak to a Las Cruces police officer.