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.
Scammers use many different platforms including phones, social media, email and apps to try to obtain confidential information or money. Often, a scammer calls an international student or scholar and poses as a government official to request personal information.
The scammer may claim that they are a police officer, an official from your home country, an immigration official with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a representative from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or someone with the Social Security Administration.
In many cases, the caller ID may show a number that appears to be legitimate (labeled as the Social Security Administration, Austin Police Department, etc). This technique is called “caller ID spoofing.” Scammers can edit caller ID to say whatever they want it to say, when the actual number calling is not from an official office.
UTPD has recently announced via Twitter that they have been seeing an increasing number of UT students being targeted by a scam where scammers impersonate UTPD officers and request money to avoid arrest. If you receive a suspicious phone call or email, please hang up and notify UTPD on their non-emergency line.
How to Avoid Scams
The best ways to protect yourself from a scammer are pretty simple:
- Start by restricting your UT directory information and checking your social media privacy settings. Scammers often obtain your personal details from the university directory or social media.
- Remember that government or university officials will NEVER ask you to provide credit/debit/gift card numbers, wire transfer info or bank routing numbers, nor will they ask you to make bitcoin deposits for any purpose.
- Make sure you NEVER give out your personal or financial information to unknown callers.
Stay safe—and don’t fall for a scam!