Avoiding Scams and Identity Theft
The HIO has received multiple reports of international students and scholars receiving scam phone calls from individuals representing themselves as employees with “U.S. Immigration” or other government entities. They alter caller ID systems to make it appear that the call is coming from a governmental number. The scammers obtain or verify personally identifiable information from their victims through various tactics, including by telling individuals that they are the victims of identity theft. The scammers also pose as law enforcement or immigration officials and threaten victims with arrest unless they make payments to the scammers using a variety of methods.
Students and scholars who have received scam phone calls, have reported that their caller ID said the IRS or an immigration office (e.g. SEVP, USCIS) were calling. Scam phone calls have also been received where the caller ID stated that the Massachusetts State Police, Cambridge Police, or other local police were calling. If you do not know who is on the line, do not simply assume it is someone from the office identified on your caller ID. Scammers are able to “spoof” these numbers so it appears the call is coming from a government office.
Government officials would never ask you for money or to meet them with gift cards. The IRS would never call individuals regarding their taxes and USCIS or SEVP would never call you to threaten you with arrest or deportation. If you receive any calls like those described above, simply hang up! You should also never email your social security number or give it to someone you do not know over the phone. Please refer to the links below for resources and more information:
- Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts
- Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance
- For more information about how to avoid identity theft please review the HUPD website.
- CBP Announcement on Scams