International students & scholars are often targeted by anonymous individuals alleging to be police officers or individuals working for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in an attempt to extort money from them. This is considered a scam or dishonest act. Recently, two international students informed the International Office that they received a phone call from someone from the Austin Police Department. The individual requested that the international student withdraw money from their bank account and deposit it somewhere else; if they did not do this, they allegedly would lose their F-1 immigration status which would cause serious problems and/or possible deportation.
U.S. government officials will NOT contact you asking for money or personal information such as a Social Security Number, bank account, credit card information, passport number, or I-94 card number. If a caller asks for these things, stay calm and do not give out any personal information. Here are some steps you should take if you receive a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from a government agency:
- Calmly ask what the call is about. Take specific notes about what the caller is saying and requesting.
- Politely request the agent’s information. Write down the agent’s full name, agency, and any identification number he or she can provide. Also request his or her direct phone number so you can call back. If the caller doesn’t want to give you this information, it is probably a scam.
- Immediately contact an international student or scholar advisor with the information you have recorded. ISSS will help you to investigate the reason for the call and determine if it is valid. If it is a fraudulent call, it should be reported the police. ISSS can help you with this.
Remember that you have rights. Don’t ever give out any personal information or money to someone who calls you unexpectedly. Immigration scams may be reported to USCIS. Please see the USCIS Avoid Scams Website.
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In addition, please be wary of any phone calls or emails you may receive from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS website describes potential scams that could affect you. If you receive any suspicious emails from the IRS, report them to the IRS.