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The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have reported an increase in the number of scams targeting international students. Often scammers pretend to be government officials in order to obtain personal identifying information and money. They might already know information about you when they call, or they may try to scare you by threatening that you will be arrested or deported if you don't pay immediately.
As an international student in the U.S., it is important that you remain aware of your rights and duties and have clear information about immigration requirements and money management.
The tricks that scammers use are very sophisticated, and it is easy for anyone to fall victim. Here are some tips for protecting yourself from scams:
1. Government agencies will never request money by phone or email.
If payment is needed, you will a letter on official stationary requesting payment.
2. Do not provide your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) over the phone or by email.
Keep your documents in a safe place. You do not need to carry your card around with you.
3. Only go to government websites for immigration information and forms.
In the United States, official government websites include ".gov" in the web address. All application forms are free to download.
4. You will not be penalized for reporting a scam.
Reporting a suspected scam will not negatively affect your immigration status. You have the right to protect yourself against identity theft and fraud.
5. Ask for a call back number.
Do not provide identifying information or bank information. If you have any doubts about whether it is a scam or a real government official, ask for the caller's information and a call back number, then call or email ISSS so that we can help you report the scam.