International students and scholars must beware of telephone and email scams in which individuals will fraudulently claim the student or scholar owes money related to immigration or tax penalties.  These types of scams are becoming increasingly common.  They often target foreign individuals who may be unfamiliar with certain procedures in the U.S. and who are often less suspecting of the scam.

Our office has been alerted to several cases of individuals calling our students claiming to be from USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), the FBI, or local police offices which turned out to be phone scams.  In most cases, scammers posing as USCIS personnel or other government officials will:

  • request private personal information (such as Social Security number or Passport number)
  • claim that there is a problem with your immigration or tax records
  • ask for payment to correct the records

Be aware that Caller ID numbers can be faked.  It may appear that the call is coming from an official-looking 800 number, a phone number that you may even be able to find on the USCIS or IRS website.

No government agency or law enforcement official will ever ask an individual for money or for secure private information over the phone or by email.  They will not threaten arrest or deportation over non-payment.  If you receive this type of scam phone call, no matter how convincing the caller may sound, never agree to pay anything and never provide or confirm any additional personal information.  Please consult with ISSS if you ever have a doubt or concern related to the accuracy or maintenance of your immigration records.

ISSS strongly encourages you to report any cases of fraudulent phone calls or emails.  You may do so in any or all of the following ways:

  • Contact our office or come to ISSS to explain the incident to an ISSS advisor.
  • Contact the UNC Department of Public Safety at 919-962-8100 to report the incident or to report any other crime.
  • If you receive an email regarding your immigration status and you are not sure if it is a scam, forward the suspicious email to the USCIS Webmaster at webmaster@uscis.dhs.gov. USCIS will review the emails received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate.
  • USCIS recommends reporting such cases to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) so these scams may be better monitored.

You may review additional information on this topic provided on the USCIS website and the IRS website. Please contact ISSS with any questions you may have.