Be Vigilant Against Phone & Email Scams
Phone and email scams are common for international students. We have a few students targeted by scammers each semester, impersonating government officials such as the ICE, DHS, USCIS, IRS, FBI, etc., or even a student's own government. We hope that international students and faculty find this page helpful in learning the common forms of scams so that if you do receive a scam call, you will be able to identify it as a scam, and hang up. Scammers are easily able to disguise the number they are calling from, in fact, most scammers look like they are actually calling from an official government number. This does NOT mean that this is a legitimate government official.
Government agencies/officials will NEVER:
- Call you on the phone, if ever, and will NEVER demand payment over the phone
- If a government agency was attempting to get in contact with you, they would generally provide official notices to your U.S. address, or contact our office
- Threaten to deport you, call the local or state police, or ICE to come get you due to not paying a fee
- Demand that you pay a fee without providing official documentation for the amount owed, description of the fee, etc.
- Ask for your private information over the phone (Full name, passport number, I-94 number, SEVIS number, U.S. Address, credit / debit card number, etc.)
- Instruct you that you do not have the right to hang up the phone
NEVER provide the following to anyone through email or phone:
- Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer ID Number (ITIN)
- Bank account, credit or debit card numbers
- W-2 or 1042S information
- Passport number
- Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 information
- Form I-797 or I-94 numbers
- Your UMass Lowell password - no one will EVER ask you for this
Other Important Tips:
- Your bank will never cold call you for this kind of information. If you are not expecting an email or call, hang up and contact our office as soon as possible.
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and other U.S. government agencies will NEVER contact you via email asking for personal details. If you receive such an email, do not open or respond to it as it likely contains some sort of virus or phishing attempt.
- The IRS or USCIS will NEVER ask you for credit card numbers over the phone or pre-paid cards or wire transfers.
- If you have been called by someone claiming to be from the IRS or USCIS, ask for their name, badge number and their contact information. Tell them you will call them back once you have consulted an ISSO advisor. Actual agents of the government will allow you to do so.
- We advise that you remove your address or any critical identity information from your LinkedIn and social media accounts. It's also helpful to periodically do a Google search of your name to review what is publicly listed under your name.
- Many scams may reference your ability to work off-campus without needing to obtain authorization. We'd remind you that ALL off-campus work experience (whether paid, unpaid, a co-op or internship) requires prior approval from the ISSO. Failure to obtain this authorization prior to working could jeopardize your legal status in the U.S.
For more information please visit the following websites:
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – Avoid Scams
- U.S. Federal Trade Commission – Consumer Information – Scam Alerts
What should I do if I receive what I think is a scam call?
- When in doubt, hang up and contact ISSO by email at: email@example.com.
- ISSO will then instruct you to report the scam to the UMass Lowell Police Department.
- ISSO also recommends reporting the scam through the appropriate channels.