A growing number of international students have reported receiving scam phone calls or emails over the last several months. Scams can be difficult to identify, but you can certainly prepare yourself to avoid falling victim to one.
What is a scam?
A scam is a fraudulent attempt to get a person’s personal information or money. This is often done by impersonating a government official, company, or other trusted entity. Scams targeting international students have impersonated USCIS, CBP, SEVP, the Social Security Administration, and embassy workers. It’s important to remember that these government agencies will never call you. Additionally, they will never ask you for financial information over the phone.
What are the signs of a scam?
Scams can be conducted via phone, email, text, social media, etc.. Scammers are able to mask their phone number, email name, or link to appear as official. If you’re unsure, consider the following:
- are you being asked for money?
- are you being asked for personal information such as a Social Security Number or immigration details?
- are you being pressured to click on a link or take action such as completing an online form?
- are you being threatened if you do not pay money or provide personal information?
- are you being asked to download anything to your phone or computer?
- are you being pressured to ask for money from friends or family?
- are you being asked to keep the call or investigation a secret?
These are common signs of a scam. If you experience any of these, it is best to stop engaging. You can always contact ISS if you need to verify anything in terms of your immigrations status.
What scams are we seeing now?
Students have reported seeing scammers pretending to be the following:
- the Chinese consulate or police agency
- the IRS (U.S. tax agency)
- Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
What if I fall for a scam?
If you happen to fall for a scam, act immediately. Take the following steps:
- Report to UWPD.
- Secure your accounts by changing your passwords.
- Report suspicious emails and links to the Office of Information Security.
- Let ISS know so that we can be aware of scams targeting international students.
- Reach out to CIRCLE. They can help you file the appropriate reports with UW and UWPD.