Protect Yourself From Scams
Unfortunately, international students and scholars are targets of scams in the US.
Scammers target international students and scholars in an attempt to solicit funds on behalf of US Federal offices, such as the U.S. Internal Revenue Services, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) or Police Department.
Scammers are requesting those targeted students to send them money to avoid deportation or law suit. The scammers are using the ‘Location Services’ app on students’ cellular devices to find the students’ location and threaten them with continued pursuit or deportation if they do not receive the money.
The most recent scam has been targeting the Chinese students. Scammers are calling Chinese students “claiming to be from DHL Express, stating that mail with the students’ name was intercepted and found to contain fraudulent credit cards. In each case, the student was told that they were the subject of a criminal money laundering investigation by Chinese police and that they risked deportation.”
These incidents have been reported by students throughout the country and are currently under investigation by law enforcement. Here are some warning signs of fraudulent scam phone calls:
- You should disregard any phone call or voice message from a person attempting to collect taxes or any other fees on behalf of the U.S Internal Revenue Service. IRS does not call anyone. IRS contact people via mail. Do not give any personal information and most importantly do not give them your credit card. Scammers are even leaving voice messages on students' cell phones. DO NOT RETURN those phone calls. These calls are generally coming from the area code (202).
- You should disregard any phone call from a person attempting to collect an SEVIS related fee on behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) and SEVP. The process that SEVP has in place for the collections of unpaid I-901 Fees does not involve contacting students via phone to threaten or request money.
- If you believe you are a victim of fraud:
- Report instances of fraud to IC3 (www.ic3.gov) as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not funds were transferred.
- If funds were transferred, immediately contact the sending financial institution and request a SWIFT recall or an ACH reversal. Also request that the sending financial institution prepare a Hold Harmless Letter to indemnify the beneficiary bank.
What to do if you receive this type of phone call?
Do not provide any personal or financial information, including passport numbers, bank accounts, or other identifying information. Do not agree to be transferred directly to another phone number. Hang up and alert local authorities immediately. We also advise that you contact Campus Safety at 257-7777.
Office of International Programs
(8:30 - 5pm, M-F): 813-258-7433
UT Safety and Security (24 hours):
Tampa Police Department (non-emergency)
USCIS - Avoid Scams
USCIS - Common Scams
Study in the States - Protect Yourself From Scams
FTC - Phone Scams
IRS - Tax Scams Video
IRS - Scam Tips