SCAM ALERT - Government officials (either U.S. or international) will never call you! Beware scammers and imposters calling from recognized government numbers claiming you are in violation of your immigration status, social security status, etc., and asking you for money. Please review the information carefully and contact OIA any time you have any questions about your immigration statuses or requests you receive.
OIA warns all international students and scholars (and their dependents) about a scam using the DHS OIG hotline telephone number. Scammers have identified themselves as “U.S. Immigration” employees and have altered their caller ID so the call appears to be coming from the DHS OIG hotline (1-800-323-8603), or from 911, or from another known government telephone number. Scammers have also misrepresented themselves are agents from the Social Security Administration, and other government agencies. One student reported:
I received an automated call from what seemed to be a government phone number telling me my social security information has been compromised. After I pressed 1 to find out more I spoke with a man who told me he was from Social Security Administration. I did not remember my SSN so they asked me to select out of three possible numbers. I was then informed that there exists a warrant for my arrest due to drug trafficking and money laundering...I was told that someone must have stolen my identity and I have to transfer my money to a government secure account (or what they termed Government Elect Federal Security Card Saving) so that this person cannot access my funds. I was told that if I did not do this, the government would freeze my account and I would lose all my money. I had to take out money from my account, put it on reloadable cards (purchased in Target, Whole Foods, etc.), and give him the access codes along with pictures of these cards. I was told that a social security administrator will show up at my address to provide me with a new SSN and a refund check.
Scammers will demand the individual provide or verify personally identifiable information, often by telling individuals that they are victims of identity theft, in violation of address updates, or other violations.
For more on common USCIS scams visit: https://www.uscis.gov/avoid-scams/common-scams
If a Scammer Calls You
If you receive a call demanding personal information or payment, hang up immediately. You may verify your status or learn more about scams by doing the following:
- Call OIA and explain you believe you were the victim of a scam. We can verify that your immigration record is intact and correct.
- Call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 to ask if you need to do anything about your case or immigration status,
- Use myUSCIS to find up-to-date information about your application.
- Read the most recent USCIS Scam Alert
Remember, USCIS officials will never threaten you or ask for payment over the phone or in an email. If USCIS needs payment, you will receive a letter on official stationery requesting payment.
Do not give payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a government official. In general, we encourage you to protect your personal information and not to provide details about your immigration application in any public area.
How to Report a Call from a Scammer
If you receive a scam email or phone call, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1
For more about current scams: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts
If you 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.
Visit the Avoid Scams Initiative at www.uscis.gov/avoid-scams for more information on common scams and other important tips.