Dear Students and Scholars,
We were recently informed that several students were subjected to a recent scam involving calls appearing to be from 911 or from USCIS or the IRS (sometimes all three in the same call). Last year we also had similar reports about calls from those claiming to be the IRS and most recently, we’ve been informed of scam involving someone who claims to be from the FBI, who threatens arrest/deportation if fees are not paid. Most recently, the caller told the student to pay in the form of gift cards for iTunes, Amazon, etc.
In most version of this scam, the caller claims to be a law enforcement officer or USCIS official. They claim that you did something wrong regarding your immigration status or taxes, and that you are going to be deported. They claim that you are under surveillance, and that you cannot contact any other individual or go to any website to confirm this issue. They state that you must wire money to them to start an investigation, or to pay a fine, etc. and they often get other sensitive personal and financial information from you in the process including your Social Security Number, and other identity documents.
If you receive a similar call, understand the following:
- No government agency or agent will call you to demand payment over the phone. Even in cases where legitimate money is owed (such as taxes) the government will communicate with you in writing, not over the phone.
- 911 is not a number that you will receive a call from. The only time that 911 may legitimately show up as a number in your caller ID is in the case of a “Reverse 911” call (which will give safety information advising a threat in your area, and is usually a recorded message. Very similar to the Wolf Alert system).
- The government will not demand a particular method of payment (such as wire transfer, gift cards, etc.)…there will be multiple methods of payment.
- The government will not ask for your SSN or credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- The government will not threaten arrest or deportation over non-payment.
- A government agent cannot remain anonymous- they must disclose badge information.
What should you do if you get such a call?
- Do NOT transfer any money or share any personal or financial details, even if the caller already has a lot of information about you.
- Try to get the name and contact number for whomever is calling, along with a badge number.
- HANG UP!!! Do not answer any additional calls from that number.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ If you receive an email are not sure if it is a scam, forward the suspicious email to the USCIS Webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org. USCIS will review the emails received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate.
- Call NC State University Police at 919-515-3000 immediately to report it to the university. Then call OIS at 919-515-2961.
What should I do if I already gave them personal information or transferred money?
- Call NCSU Police at 919-515-3000 to file a report. The police will most likely not be able to get you back your money if the money was already picked up after being wired. However the police report can be helpful in making other credit protection reports.
- Please also notify OIS so that we can keep abreast of new aspects to any fraud scam to further alert students and scholars.
- If you gave someone your Social Security Number, report that to the SSA. Also read this publication for additional information.
- Monitor your credit. The Federal Trade Commission has developed an extensive guide to managing identity theft. Some of this you may not need if you are not noticing any fraudulent activity on your credit report, but you must check your credit report to be sure. You are entitled to a free report every year.
How did they figure out I was here on a visa? How did they get my phone number?
OIS and NC State University strictly protects your status as an international student or scholar. Most often, identifying you as someone on a visa is an informed guess based on information that you have made public.
- Check your Linkedin and other job search accounts. Remove your phone number and address from any posted resume or summary of your work history. Leave only email.
- Check all other social media accounts, particularly if they are public. Remove your phone number for those accounts, and be careful with the personal information you post.
- Check your Directory information on the NC State website. You can choose what you want listed on the Directory such as only listing email, and students can also choose to not be listed at all.
Learn more about common scams and frauds at https://www.usa.gov/scams-and-frauds