International students and scholars are often targeted for scams here in the United States or while organizing travel and accommodations before they arrive. Avoid falling for these scams by equipping yourself with knowledge.
How Scams Work
Scams are a dishonest way to obtain a person’s confidential information and/or money through a variety of different platforms including:
- Social media
- Mobile apps
Often, either through voice calls or texts, scammers will impersonate a trusted entity such as a landlord or relator for local housing accommodations, a potential employer, or even a government official (from the U.S. or your home country).
Caller ID Spoofs
These scams become more dangerous — and harder to spot — when the scammers edit their caller ID. In many cases, the caller ID may show a number that appears to be legitimate (labeled as the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Austin Police Department, home country embassy, etc.). This technique is called “caller ID spoofing.”
How to Avoid Scams
There are several simple ways to protect yourself from scammers.
- Restrict your UT directory information and check your social media privacy settings on the Restrict My Info webpage. Scammers often obtain your personal details from the University directory or social media.
- Keep your personal information private and secure. Do not carry your Social Security card with you (if you have one). Do not share your passwords or tell anyone your Social Security number unless you can confirm the receiver is legitimate.
- Remember how official entities operate. Government or university officials will never ask you to provide credit or debit account information, gift card numbers, wire transfer info or bank routing numbers. Nor will they ask you to make Bitcoin deposits for any purpose.
- Never give out your personal or financial information to unknown callers. If you think someone is trying to scam you, hang up. For added protection, you can block the number after the call, if you wish.
- Do not answer strange texts from unknown sources. If you don’t recognize a number that sends a text to your phone, do not respond or click on any links in the text. In many cases, you can report it to your phone provider’s spam or fraud service.
- Never click on links provided in emails from unfamiliar sources. Pay attention to an email’s Sender address and make sure it looks correct — no typo errors, etc. If you’re not sure, you can open a new tab in your browser, type in the name of the organization the email supposedly came from, and look at how their Info email addresses are written. If the two addresses don’t match up, delete the email without answering or clicking anything in it.
Many U.S. government authorities provide information on scams and how to report them.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation & Fall 2023 Liaison Information Report on Scams Targeting Chinese Students
- Federal Trade Commission blog
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts
- Social Security Administration on Social Security Number Scams
- USCIS Common Scams web portal
- U.S. General Services Administration
Source: NAFSA “Protecting International Students and Scholars from Scams”
Questions? Need help?
Contact International Student and Scholar Services if you have questions or need support or if you think you’ve been a victim of a scam.
- International students may email email@example.com.
- International scholars and faculty may email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe — and don’t fall for a scam!