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How to Recognize a Scam

Be aware of scams targeting international students and scholars. Some UMD students have reported receiving calls or emails that their immigration status is at risk and they must pay a fee/fine to avoid being deported. These are scams!

These criminals are pretending to be from your home country consulate (or embassy), from U.S. law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, or from U.S. government agencies such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). The calls may also be "robocalls" making "urgent" callback requests. Victims are threatened that they will be deported or have to depart the US unless they wire large sums of money immediately (or within several hours). A number of international students at the University of Maryland as well as other Universities have reported receiving phone calls from someone posing as a US Immigration Service or IRS Tax officer.  

Your home country consulate will not call you and ask you to transfer money. They also won’t call you and ask for your ID or bank account information, or tell you that they are transferring the call to “Interpol” or to the police. Similarly, U.S. government agencies will not call you and ask for money or threaten to have the FBI arrest you. They will never ask for payment with iTunes cards or other gift cards.

Criminals often use “spoofing services” to choose the number or name that shows up on your phone. The call may appear to come from a government agency, from a consulate, or from the FBI or the police, but it actually does not. These calls are fake or “scam” calls. You should also be very careful about emails that appear to come from U.S. government agencies such as the IRS. They may include links that can be used to steal your personal information and your money.

 You can take the following steps to avoid becoming a victim of phone scams:

  • If a scammer calls you, say “No, thank you” and hang up.
  • Never give out sensitive personal or financial information over the phone, especially if you receive an unsolicited telephone call from a stranger.
  • Never wire money in response to a telephone appeal, whether it is from a stranger or someone who claims to know you or an organization you may be familiar with.
  •  File a complaint through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  • Never let emotion or fear overcome your common sense.  The U.S. government will not call your personal number (even though the source phone number may be a USCIS number, it has been co-opted by the scammers).  If for some reason the police, IRS, or another government agency needs to talk to you, they will do it in person and bring official identification like a badge and/or a photographic ID card.
  • Remember, USCIS will NEVER request payment over the phone the Emergency 911 Center Center does NOT make outgoing calls (#Emergency911).
  • If you 're unsure about a call contact the ISSS office for guidance. 


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