Please be aware that there are a large number of tax and immigration scams in the U.S. which target international students and scholars. Most of these types of scams will spoof a government agency phone number in order to look official.
The IRS, DHS, and other government agencies will never contact you by phone or email.
Signs of a Scam Phone Call:
- Automated call/robocall notifies you that your Social Security Number has been suspended, requesting you to call back.
- A live caller requests you to pay a fine using Western Union, PayPal, Green Dot, MoneyGram or some other wire transfer service.
- Often the caller threatens your arrest or deportation for failure to act within a very short period of time.
- If it is a live caller, they will try to prevent you from hanging up, asking you to visit a retail store to transfer funds while remaining on the phone.
Student’s Guide to Fraud Scams
The International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators (IAFCI), previously known as the International Association of Credit Card Investigators, has published a new resource, Student’s Guide to Fraud Scams (PDF). IAFCI is a non-profit international organization that provides services and an environment within which information about financial fraud, fraud investigation and fraud prevention methods can be collected, exchanged and taught for the common good of the financial payment industry and our global society.
The Student’s Guide to Fraud Scams outlines different scenarios for a variety of scams that range from tax scams and identity theft to PayPal and rides share scams.
Each section provides prevention tips for each situation and a top 10 list of fraud prevention tips are shared that include:
- Get your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com. Each year you may receive one free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Trans Union, Equifax or Experian). Upon receipt, check for unauthorized accounts, inquiries, and unknown addresses.
- Register to access your social security benefits statement at www.ssa.gov. Upon receipt, review your estimated benefits and earnings record. You should also ensure no one is using your social security number for employment or other benefits.
- Do not pay for merchandise online or via the phone using a debit card. Debit cards are vulnerable because they are linked to a bank account. You have a far better chance of resolving a fraudulent transaction when paying with a credit card rather than with a debit card. Also do not provide your debit/credit card numbers over the phone, via emails or on websites unless you initiated the call or order.
- Know who you are paying, via person to person payments, i.e., Zelle, Venmo, etc. Pay and receive money only with people you know. Don’t pay strangers with P2P (person to person). Most “person to person” transactions are instantaneous and irreversible.
IAFCI also provides a variety of consumer awareness resources, from identity theft information to online dating and emergency scams prevention. For more information about IAFCI or answers to questions, please contact them directly at 916-939-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.