Scams Targeting International Students and Scholars
Scams are dishonest, illegal schemes to make money. These schemes often involve tricking people into providing personal information. Unfortunately, many scams target international students and scholars in the United States.
ISSO has continued to see an increase in scams targeting international students and scholars. Our goal is to educate you on what types of scams may exist and provide resources to contact if you do fall victim to a scam.
Types of Scams
Beware of scammers claiming to be with any U.S. government agency involved with immigration matters: Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Counter Terrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU), United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), SEVIS, Customs & Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Department of State (also known as the State Dept or DOS), or the out-of-date name Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS).
Often, these callers will claim to be with one of the agencies listed above, and will claim you are out of status and will threaten you with deportation or arrest if you do not pay a fine. From USCIS: "USCIS will never ask you to transfer money to an individual. We do not accept Western Union, MoneyGram, PayPal, or gift cards as payment for immigration fees. In addition, we will never ask you to pay fees to a person on the phone or by email."
Beware of Caller ID Spoofing: "Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust."
In addition, please be wary of any phone calls or emails you may receive from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS website describes potential scams that could affect you. If you receive any suspicious emails from the IRS, report them to the IRS.
Beware of other fradulent schemes not listed here, such as someone asking you to pay for something for them in a story, someone offering to pay your tuition. Often times, they are just trying to get personal information about you (like your name, birthdate, etc.)
What to Do If You Have Been a Victim of A Scam
If you have provided any type of personal information over the phone, such as your Social Security Number, passport number, credit card number, or bank account information, report it as soon as possible.
Checklist for Reporting a Scam:
2. Contact your bank and tell them you have become victim to a scam.
3. Contact your credit card company and tell them you have become victim to a scam. If you provided your credit card number to the scammer, freeze your credit card and/or get a new card.
4. Place a fraud alert with the three credit bureaus.
5. Report identify theft with the Federal Trade Commission.
6. If you gave out their passport number, contact your home country embassy to notify them.
7. If it was an online or phishing scam, report it to the IRS.
8. If it was an immigration scam, report to with these places.