Protect yourself from scams
Unfortunately, a number of scams target international students and scholars in the US: an email sender or caller will claim that they are contacting you from a US government agency (IRS, DHS/USCIS/ICE, FBI, SEVP, police, etc.) regarding an important, time-sensitive matter that requires your immediate attention and usually large sums of money. These people are not who they say they are.
These encounters can be troubling and you may want to resolve them as quickly as possible, but there are some steps you should take to avoid being scammed.
Please keep these tips in mind:
- Do not provide or confirm any information about you even it sounds like they have your information. It is a scam.
- Do not give out or confirm your name, date of birth, Social Security Number, bank account or credit card information, passport number, Alien Registration Number, I-94 information, arrival/departure record, passwords, etc.
- Do not buy them gift or cash cards. Do not wire or transfer money to them. Just hang up the phone!
- If you receive a call from someone who says they are from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or a similar agency, please hang up—even if your caller ID shows that the call is from USCIS/DHS/ICE/SEVP. If they call again, tell them to talk to Emory ISSS at 404-727-3300.
- If you receive a call from someone who says they are with the International Revenue Service (IRS), please hang up—even if your caller ID shows that the call is from the IRS. If you think you might owe federal taxes, hang up first and then call 800-829-1040, and IRS workers will help answer your payment questions.
- If you receive a call from someone who says they are from the Social Security Administration (SSA), please hang up. Do not provide personal information or send money. You can report the scam call to the Social Security Administration online.
- If you receive a call or an email telling you to make a payment immediately by phone or a hyperlink, or to withdraw or wire transfer funds right away, simply decline. If this is a legitimate bill or fine, you should have received written correspondence before the call.
- If you are contacted by someone claiming to have information about your immigration status, contact your ISSS advisor right away. If you’re not sure whether it’s a legitimate call, ask your ISSS advisor for guidance.
- If you are contacted by someone who threatens to file a lawsuit against you, revoke your driver’s license, arrest you, or deport you, hang up and contact your ISSS advisor. The scammer might provide a fake IRS badge number, send bogus emails to support their call, or imitate a local police officer or Department of Driver Services employee—and they might know the last 4 digits of your social security number.
- Here are some safety tips from Emory Police to avoid “Zoombombers."
- Watch this presentation on Avoiding Scams by the Emory Police for more tips!
- USCIS tips - avoiding scams
- SEVP message to students about scams
- ICE Tip Line
- IRS tax scam tips video & IRS tax tip sheet
- SSA tips to avoid scams & SSA Frequently Asked Questions on Fraud
- Federal Trade Commission tips to avoid coronavirus-related scams
- More tips from Emory Police >>
April 19, 2017—The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a warning about a scam using the department’s hotline telephone number. Scammers have identified themselves as “U.S. Immigration” employees and have altered their caller ID so that it appears the call is coming from the department’s hotline (1-800-323-8603). They then demand that the individual provide or verify personally identifiable information, often by telling individuals that they are victims of identity theft.
Read the DHS OIG fraud alert for more details.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers the following advice:
If you receive a call demanding personal information or payment, hang up immediately.
If you want to verify whether a call is from USCIS, you may do one of the following:
* Call our National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 to ask if you need to do anything about your case or immigration status,
* Make an InfoPass appointment at http://infopass.uscis.gov, or
* Use myUSCIS to find up-to-date information about your application.
Remember, USCIS officials will never threaten you or ask for payment over the phone or in an email. If we need payment, we will mail a letter on official stationery requesting payment.
How to Report a Call from a Scammer
If you receive a scam email or phone call, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. If you are not sure if it is a scam, forward the suspicious email to the USCIS webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org. USCIS will review the emails received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate. Visit the Avoid Scams Initiative for more information on common scams and other important tips.
March 26, 2015—Unfortunately, during tax season we often see an increase in the number of scams that target international students and scholars in the US. Since our most recent email about this issue in February, we have heard about multiple scam attempts targeting students here at Emory.
Dec. 11, 2014—Recently, some international students and scholars have been targeted by a scam in which an email sender or caller will claim that they are contacting you from a US government agency regarding an important, time-sensitive matter that requires your immediate attention.
Please note that US government officials will never contact you to ask for money or personal information, such as your social security number, bank account, credit card info, passport number, and so on.
If you receive a suspicious request, please do not provide any information. Instead, let your ISSS advisor know about the call or email, and ask them for guidance.