What Are Scams?
Scams are dishonest, illegal schemes that aim to make money by deceiving people. Each year, scammers who claim to be from U.S. government agencies call or email international students and scholars to demand money and threaten them with arrest or deportation if they don’t pay.
Scammers will claim to be from some of the following U.S. government agencies:
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Social Security Administration Office (SSA)
- Internal Revenue Services (IRS)
Scammers can be very aggressive and often employ scare tactics to try to intimidate potential victims. Your safety and security are a priority and concern to ISSP, so please familiarize yourself with the information and resources listed below.
Phishing Email Scams
IRS Tax Scams
Things to remember
- If someone contacts you and says that “if you do not pay them money, that you will be arrested or deported”, that is most likely a scam. Legitimate representatives from USCIS, the IRS, or other government agencies will never threaten you or ask you to pay money.
- The U.S. government and immigration officials will NEVER request payment through gift cards, cash, wire transfers or cryptocurrency. They will also NEVER call or email to ask for credit/debit card information or bank routing numbers.
- It is very rare for the U.S. government to contact a student or scholar by phone or email. Contact is usually made through mailed letters.
- Never give personal or financial information to unknown callers – if the caller seems to have a lot of your personal information, do not give them any more information.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no,” hang up, or ignore requests from scam callers or suspicious emails.
- Sometimes scammers will hide their true phone number (known as spoofing) and appear to be calling from a legitimate U.S. government phone number.
- The website and email domain for an official US government organization should end with .gov. If it ends with .com, .net, or .org, then it’s most likely not the U.S. government.
Don’t be afraid to hang up the phone or ignore a suspicious email. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be a government agency and you are not sure if it is legitimate:
- Contact ISSP immediately. Do not let the scammers scare you into giving them money. We will help to determine if it is a legitimate request.
- If you encounter, or are a victim of an Immigration spoof call, you are also encouraged to report the incident to the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Immigration Tip Line.
- You can also report scams to the W&M Police and W&M Information Technology.
Here are some helpful websites that warn against scams targeting international students and scholars and provide information to help determine if you are being scammed.