With the arrival of COVID-19, we have all been changing the way we do things and so have scammers. With many new administrative processes and ways to interact, scammers have been taking note and finding new ways to target unsuspecting individuals. It is increasingly common for people to take advantage of others online and over the phone.
One technique scammers use is called “caller ID spoofing,” in which a scammer calls an international student or scholar and pose as a government official to request personal information. ISSS has recently learned of a new spoofing scam where scammers use the Student and Exchange Visitor Program Response Center (SRC) phone numbers (703-603-3400 and 800-892-4829) and claim to be SRC representatives. The fraudulent callers inquire about Form I-94 documents and ask students to provide information about financial transactions.
If you or one of your friends encounter or are a victim of this spoof call, please report the incident to the HSI tip line as well as to UTPD. If you receive a suspicious call from a SEVP official, you can also reach out to ISSS and a student advisor will investigate the situation for you.
International students and scholars are often targeted for fraudulent scams. Scams are a dishonest way to obtain a person’s confidential information or their money by tricking them. Scammers usually do this by impersonating a trusted individual.
The scammer may claim that they are an immigration official with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services’ (USCIS), a representative from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a representative from the Social Security Administration, a police officer, or an official from your home country. In many cases, the caller ID may show a number that appears to be legitimate (Social Security Administration, Austin Police Department, etc). Please note, scammers can edit caller ID to say one thing and the actual number calling is not from an official office.
Things to remember:
- The best way to protect yourself from a scammer is to restrict your UT Directory information and check your social media privacy settings. Scammers often obtain your personal details from the university directory and from social media.
- SEVP officials or other government or university officials will NEVER ask you 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.
Stay safe and don’t fall for a scam!