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Scam Information & Alerts

Scams can come in the form of phone calls or email and are unsolicited attempts to get personal information or money from you under false pretenses. International students and scholars continue to be subjected to scams involving calls appearing to be someone from a government agency and even 911. The caller may demand personally identifiable information or payment with a specific method such as wire transfer or gift cards to resolve an error with your record. These calls are completely false. There has also been an increase in email scams with offers of employment that require little work for a lot of money. These emails are scams.

In some cases, the caller or emailer may claim you did something wrong regarding your immigration status or taxes, and that you are going to be deported. They may claim that you are under surveillance, and that you cannot contact any other individual or go to any website to confirm this issue. They may state that you must wire money to them to start an investigation, or to pay a fine, etc. and they ask you to provide other sensitive personal and financial information in the process including your Social Security Number, bank account information, and other identity documents. Even if the caller or emailer already has a lot of information about you, do not share any additional personal or financial information such as your SSN, bank account, or debit/card information.  Do not click on links or download attachments from senders not known to you.

Active scam alerts are posted below.  Please also review our tips on how to protect yourself if you receive a scam phone call.

Scam Alerts

April 18, 2023

There have been several reports of a new scam attempt involving the supposed subleasing of apartments. In this scam, someone contacts a NC State student who has advertised a sublease of an apartment and promises to pay by check to secure the sublease. In this scenario they “accidentally” overpay and ask you to reimburse them for the overpayment through a real payment method like CashApp or Zelle. It is only later that the bank indicates the initial check was fraudulent and now the student with the sublease has lost the money they sent the scammer. We have also heard that another variation of this scam is to promise to pay through your payment portal. Once students share their legitimate login credentials, the scammers use the portal access to try and gain personal and financial information.

Things to remember:

  • You should not reimburse strangers for “accidental” overpayment for things like sublease rent. In previous years we’ve seen a similar scam for the purchase of used furniture. Instead, return the original payment and ask that they reissue payment in the correct amount or request correct payment via a method that allows you to confirm the legitimacy immediately (PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, etc.).
  • It often takes banks 3 to 4 weeks to verify the legitimacy of a check that has been deposited or cashed. The money showing up in your bank account doesn’t necessarily mean that a check is legitimate.
  • Never share your login credentials with anyone, including for rent payment portals.
  • Be careful where you advertise a sublease. When possible, work through the management company or leasing office to identify legitimate offers to sublet an apartment.

December 2, 2022

OIS has been made aware of another scam attempt where the scammer appears to call from a NC State phone number and impersonates a university employee. The scammer tells the student they have failed to fill out immigration paperwork and says that the student will receive a phone call from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with further details. Students then receive a second phone call from someone impersonating an ICE officer. That person also reports that immigration forms are missing and they demand immediate payment to “correct” the problem. Payment has been demanded by Zelle as well as gift cards. In some cases, the scammers become increasingly aggressive, make threats, and even threaten action and harm against family members in their home country. These scammers are relying on fear to scare students out of hard earned money.

Things to remember:

  • OIS helps to ensure your immigration record is in order while you are in F-1, J-1, J-2, or F-2 status and would communicate with you by email first if action was needed to fix an issue.
  • US government agencies (including ICE) do not call threatening immediate action (including fines, imprisonment, or bodily harm)for failure to complete immigration actions.
  • No governmental entity will call and/or text you or threaten retaliation for failing to respond or provide information.
  • No US governmental entity will call and/or text you to seek payment.
  • NEVER divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers.

Please see the “What Should I Do” section below if you feel you have been the victim of a scam.

July 21st, 2022

OIS has been made aware that some students are receiving unsolicited emails with part-time internship/employment opportunities wherein the emailer asks for additional contact information (i.e. phone number) or personal identifying information (i.e. birthdate) in order to provide you with more information about the job opportunity or to consider you for the position. Usually these emails promise a large amount of money for little work. In most cases, legitimate employers do not send unsolicited emails asking for personal information unrelated to your job qualifications or experience. If the sender is not someone you’ve met at a job fair or related to a job for which you’ve applied, you should automatically be cautious about the legitimacy of the email. For example, if it’s claiming to be from a NC State staff or faculty member, is the sending address an @ncsu.edu address? 

Once the scammers have your personal information, they will contact you via email or text and continue to ask for more personal information or to provide you with details on how to set up a direct payment system with them. Please be cautious of e-check scams. In an e-check scam the scammers will email you a check image (calling it an electronic check) and ask you to deposit this check into your bank account- you should note that no legitimate company will pay an employee with an emailed image of a check. This is in fact considered check fraud. While there are legitimate ways a company can pay an employee using an e-check, emailing an image of a check to someone is not a legal use of an e-check. 

Things to remember:

  • NEVER volunteer personal identifying information after clicking an unsolicited link sent through email.
  • Paychecks are issued by University Payroll within the University Controller’s Office. Individual professors do not send paychecks to students.
  • If an overpayment from NC State ever occurred, you would be able to confirm this information with University Payroll directly.
  • F-1 and J-1 students need prior authorization to participate in any kind of off-campus employment. You should not accept an offer for off-campus employment without first discussing with OIS (so OIS can advise you on what type of authorization you will need to participate).
  • See the FAQs below if you believe you’ve been the victim of a scam.

February 24, 2022

OIS has been made aware that some students are receiving unsolicited emails with part-time internship/employment opportunities wherein the emailer asks for additional contact information (i.e. phone number) or personal identifying information (i.e. birthdate) in order to provide you with more information about the job opportunity or to consider you for the position. Other similar emails pretend to be from a university “professor” or “staff member” as part of a campus equity initiative. Usually these emails promise a large amount of money for little work.  These emails are a scam to gain personal information from you that can be used later for other purposes like scam phone calls, for example. If you receive emails like this, you should report it immediately to OIT and delete the email. Do not click on any links or provide the sender with your personal information.

In most cases, legitimate employers do not send unsolicited emails asking for personal information unrelated to your job qualifications or experience. If the sender is not someone you’ve met at a job fair or related to a job for which you’ve applied, you should automatically be cautious about the legitimacy of the email. For example, if it’s claiming to be from a NC State staff or faculty member, is the sending address an @ncsu.edu address? You can visit this OIT webpage with tips on how to recognize a phishing email. The Federal Trade Commission also has a webpage about recognizing employment scam emails in particular. In general though, if an offer of employment looks too good to be true, it probably is.

September 16, 2021

OIS has been told by several students that they received an automated phone call from “Social Security” stating that there was either suspected fraud or suspicious activity and that their SSN was suspended. It instructed them to then press 1 to speak with an agent. This is a scam phone call. Please see our original posting about a similar scam below (September 9, 2020).

If you receive a phone call like this, you should hang up and report the phone call to University Police and OIS. If you receive a phone call like the one above and mistakenly transferred money or gave away personal information, please see our tips below on what to do next.

As a reminder, US government agencies (including SSA) will not contact you via phone demanding immediate payment to correct a problem. In most cases, US government agencies communicate in writing through the US Postal Service. It is suspected that the people behind these scam calls are using phone numbers gleaned from social media sites and other public facing websites where you share contact information. It is recommended that you remove details like your phone number. As always, you are welcome to contact OIS and we will help you verify the validity of the phone call, email, or physical mail you have received.

April 1, 2021 – SCAM ADVISORY:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a warning to university faculty, staff, and students about a new phishing scam that appears to target individuals with a “.edu” email address. This latest scam comes in the form of an email that displays the IRS logo and asks you to click a link pertaining to a tax refund that then prompts you to provide personal identifying information. This email is a scam. The IRS would like to remind everyone that any information pertaining to a tax refund can be found on the IRS website using Where’s my Refund?.

Things to remember:

  • NEVER volunteer personal identifying information after clicking an unsolicited link sent through email.
  • See the FAQs below is you believe you’ve been the victim of a scam.

March 31, 2021 – SCAM ADVISORY:

OIS has been made aware of an email scam where someone spoofs a NC State professor’s email address (meaning they make it look like an actual NC State professor is sending the email) and sends a fake paycheck but then asks that students return real money for an accidentally issued paycheck or for supposed overpayment. This is a scam.

Things to remember:

  • Paychecks are issued by University Payroll within the University Controller’s Office. Individual professors do not send paychecks to students.
  • If an overpayment ever occurred, you would be able to confirm this information with University Payroll directly.
  • See the FAQs below is you believe you’ve been the victim of a scam.

February 15, 2021 – SCAM ADVISORY:

OIS has been made aware of another scam targeting international students. Scam callers claim to be calling from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and/or and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and state that students have failed to submit form AR-11 to report a change of address to the federal government. The scam callers threaten deportation, demand payment to fix the issue, and become increasingly aggressive the longer the call continues. They also intentionally try to isolate students during the phone call to prevent you from asking others for help.

Things to remember:

  • As a F-1 or J-1 visa holder, OIS provides your address updates to the federal government through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You do not need to complete form AR-11 because you are NOT responsible for providing address changes directly to the federal government. If your current SEVIS Local address is in MyPack Portal, you have fulfilled your address obligations with the federal government.
  • No governmental entity will call and/or text you to seek payment.
  • No governmental entity will call and/or text you or threaten retaliation (including fine or imprisonment) for failing to respond or provide information.
  • NEVER divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers.
  • See the FAQs below is you believe you’ve been the victim of a scam.

December 10, 2020 – SCAM ADVISORY:

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has been made aware of a spoofing scam involving individuals using the SEVP Response Center (SRC) phone numbers (703-603-3400 and 800-892-4829) and claiming to be SRC representatives. The fraudulent callers are inquiring about Form I-94 documents and asking students to provide information regarding monetary transactions.

If you or one of your peers encounter or are a victim of this spoof call, you are encouraged to report the incident to the HSI tip line. If you are unsure about the validity of a call from an SEVP official, you can also reach out to our office at 919.515.2961.  

Things to remember:

  • SEVP officials will NEVER ask stakeholders to provide credit/debit card/gift card numbers, wire transfers, or bank routing numbers, or to make bitcoin deposits for any purpose.
  • NEVER divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers.
  • Report all suspicious calls to the HSI tip line and if you are unsure about the validity of a call from SEVP officials reach out to our office.

September 9, 2020 – POSSIBLE SCAM ADVISORY:

OIS has been notified by multiple students that they received automated phone calls claiming to be from the Social Security Administration about a supposed issue with their Social Security number (SSn). Once students press “1” to speak with a “representative,” they are connected with a scammer who tries to obtain personal information including the SSn (if the student has one). The scammer will falsely talk about other Social Security issues and demand immediate payment to correct the issues and threaten possible jail time. As with many scam phone calls, the scammer tells students not to speak to anyone and that they must act immediately. They use threatening language in an attempt to scare you into sending them money or providing personal information like a SSN.

If you receive a phone call like the one above, you should hang up and report the phone call to University Police and OIS. If you receive a phone call like the one above and mistakenly transferred money or gave away personal information, please see our tips below on what to do next.

As a reminder, US government agencies (including SSA) will not contact you via phone demanding immediate payment to correct a problem. In most cases, US government agencies communicate in writing through the US Postal Service. As always, you are welcome to contact OIS and we will help you verify the validity of the phone call, email, or physical mail you have received.

January 9, 2020 — POSSIBLE SCAM ADVISORY:

University Police has informed OIS that there is information circulating, specifically in the southeastern United States, of students receiving text messages from an unknown source advising them that they have been selected for the military draft and are to report to a specific location for immediate deployment.  Further, these texts advise a person will be fined and/or imprisoned for failing to respond to the messaging or call the number provided (1-800-USA-Army).

Please know, 1) the number persons are asked to call is NOT the number to connect with the Army for employment (or other reasons) and 2) that these texts are not legitimate and are not coming from the United States Government.

In addition, it is important for you to be aware that the Selective Service System, a registry that all males ages 18-25 must register for in the U.S. with very limited exceptions, does NOT apply to students or scholars in F and J status.

Keep in mind these important safety tips regarding potential scams:

  • Do not call any number you are not familiar with
  • Use caution with responding to unsolicited text or other messages
  • Do not give personal information, financial information, nor send money (in any form) to individuals you are not familiar with or do not trust
  • No governmental entity will call and/or text you to seek payment
  • No governmental entity will call and/or text you or threaten retaliation (including fine or imprisonment) for failing to respond or provide information

What should you do if you get a spam phone call?

If you receive a scam phone 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 available.
  • The government will not ask for your personal or financial information such as your SSN, bank account information, 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.

While on the call:

  1. Do NOT transfer any money or share any personal or financial details, even if the caller already has a lot of information about you.
  2. Try to get the name and contact number for whomever is calling, along with a badge number.
  3. HANG UP!!! Do not answer any additional calls from that number.
  4. Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
  5. Call NC State University Police at 919-515-3000 immediately to report it to the university.Then call OIS at 919-515-2961 or email ois@ncsu.edu.

What should I do if I already gave them personal information or transferred money?

  1. 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.
  2. Please also notify OIS so that we can keep abreast of new aspects to any fraud scam to further alert students and scholars.
  3. If you gave someone your Social Security Number, report that to the SSA. Also read this publication for additional information.
  4. Report it to the Federal Trade Commission or to an appropriate state authority. Click here for information on where to report scams in your state.
  5. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.