Important Message to Students: Protect Yourself from Scams
Scams are when strangers target unsuspecting individuals and lie to them in order to illegally receive money or personal information. Those that conduct scams are often called scam artists. They contact people in many ways, but a common technique is to call on the telephone and demand money under false claims.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation warns, “When you send money to people you do not know personally or give personal or financial information to unknown callers, you increase your chances of becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud.” Despite this warning, thousands of people fall victim to scams each year.
Recent news reports show that there is a growing list of U.S. schools where international students are targeted by telephone and internet scams. In these instances, a scam artist typically posed as a local law enforcement officer or federal agent and claimed that the student owed money to the government and threatened legal action if the money was not paid. Most scammers make demands over the phone; they want students to provide personal information (like passport numbers), as well as bank or credit card information so they can obtain the money immediately.
It is important to know that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not call you to ask for any form of payment over the phone; therefore, you should not make any payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official. USCIS offers immigration fraud specific information to help you avoid scams, including explanations about some of the most common.
USCIS recommends that if a scammer calls, you should say “No, thank you,” hang up and report the immigration scam to local state officials, as well as through the Federal Trade Commission website. Their website can also teach you more about how to avoid telemarketing scams.
These scams have cost international students around the country thousands of dollars. Reporting scams helps the government better safeguard everyone, and according to USCIS, reporting a scam will not affect any applications you have filed. In some states, you may even be able to report anonymously.
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