Be Vigilant Against Scams

Students are targeted by scammers each semester, impersonating home government or U.S. government officials such as U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. We hope that international students and faculty find this page helpful in learning the common forms of scams to avoid being victimized. Scammers are easily able to disguise their identity and may appear as if they are contacting students from an official government phone number. This does NOT mean that this is a legitimate government official.

What should I do if I receive what I think is a scam call?

Government agencies/officials will NEVER:

  • Demand payment over the phone, and very likely will never call students directly.
    • Government agencies generally provide official notices to the student's U.S. address, or contact the ISSO.
  • Threaten deportation, call the local or state police, or send ICE due to students not paying a fee.
  • Demand that students pay a fee without providing official documentation for the amount owed, description of the fee, etc.
  • Ask for private information over the phone (name, passport number, I-94 number, SEVIS number, U.S. Address, credit / debit card number, etc.)
  • Instruct that students 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:

  • Banks will never call their clients to request private information. If you are not expecting an email or call, hang up and contact the ISSO.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and other U.S. government agencies will NEVER contact students via email asking for personal details (credit card numbers, pre-paid cards, wire transfers, etc.). Do not open or respond to these emails as they likely contain virus or phishing attempts.
  • If someone calls claiming to be from a U.S. government official, ask for their name, badge number, and their contact information. Advise them that you will need to first speak with an ISSO advisor and then return their call. Actual officials of the U.S. government will allow this.
  • We advise that students remove personal addresses or any personal information from LinkedIn and social media accounts. It's also helpful to periodically do a Google search of your name to review what is publicly listed.
  • Many scams may reference the ability to work off-campus without needing to obtain authorization. ALL off-campus work experience (paid, unpaid, co-op or internship) requires prior approval from the ISSO. Failure to obtain this authorization prior to working could jeopardize students' immigration status in the U.S. 

For more information please visit the following websites: