Unfortunately, reports of international students and scholars being targeted in phishing scam emails and phone calls are on the rise. A phishing scam typically starts with an unsolicited email or phone call where the scammer poses as a legitimate source and tries to lure or intimidate the victim into disclosing personal or financial information. Scammers who target international students and scholars have been known to pose as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and United States Citizenship & Immigration Services personnel and demand that the victim pay a certain amount of money in order to clear up an immigration issue.
- The IRS and USCIS will never initiate contact with you via phone, email, or social media to request personal or financial information.
- Legitimate representatives of local or federal offices will not make demands over the phone or insist that you comply with their request immediately and without consultation.
- Scammers may also use positive bait in their phishing attempts. Be suspicious of unsolicited job offers or news that you have been awarded an immigration benefit, such as the Diversity Visa Program, for which you have not previously applied.
- Even if you do not pay the scammers money, you can fall victim to identity theft if you share personal information such as your birthday or address. Contact your bank and change passwords if needed.
- If you think you have been targeted by a scam, say “No thank you,” hang up the phone and report the incident to the Office of International Services and the resources listed below.
Protect yourself and others from scams through education and reporting incidents if they do happen. You can learn how to identify common IRS phishing scams on the IRS website. The Department of Homeland Security has information on scams specific to international students on the Study in the States website. Finally, learn how to report an immigration scam on the USCIS website.