Scams, Tricks, or Cheats – Don’t Be a Victim of False Government Inquiries

UPIL_storefront_bannerWe originally ran this post at the beginning of April. Unfortunately, we want to run it again as we’ve received complaints from our international students about new scams. Please take the time to read this post and REPORT IT if you have been a victim.

There are many ways for criminals to steal your money.  They can steal your backpack or break into your home.  There are other criminals that can try to hack your computer or call you and pretend to be someone they are not.

OISS has recently heard of an international student who received a call from someone pretending to be from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

This person had some very detailed information about the student.  The caller said something was wrong with their immigration status and in order to fix it they had to leave the United States.  If they could not leave the U.S., then the caller would take care of the problem if the student could send them $1,600 within the next 2 hours.

Another student was called by a person pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) who said that the student’s taxes where done incorrectly. They said that if the student wired money immediately, the caller could fix the problem.

NO GOVERNMENT AGENCY WILL CALL YOU AND DEMAND MONEY OVER THE PHONE.  This includes DHS, IRS, Secretary of State or any other government agency.

Scams are not unique to international students or any group.  Criminals have been trying to cheat individuals out of their money from unknowing victims, no matter who they are. Unfortunately, smart criminals take advantage of any targeted vulnerable groups – including an international student population that is unfamiliar with American systems.

Don’t be a victim to these scams.  Do not send money to anyone that contacts you and demands money quickly.  If you can, hang up your phone or disconnect the phone call.  If you are nervous or too scared to do so, ask if you can get the caller’s name and number to call them right back.  If something does not seem right, then it probably is not.

What should you do if you experience a scam?

In the State of Michigan, you can notify the following entities:

Michigan State Bar of Michigan, UPL Complaint Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division Michigan Immigration Clerical Assistant Act

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is doing their part to combat immigration services scams.

To accomplish this goal, USCIS has launched the Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law (UPIL) Initiative. As part of the effort, they have partnered with several government agencies to identify resources that can help you avoid these scams and provide reporting mechanisms when you are a victim of immigration scams.

If you been a victim of an immigration services scam or know of a scam that you wish to report, you can go to the USCIS Avoid Scams website: http://www.uscis.gov/avoidscams

When you go to the USCIS Avoid Scams webpage under the “Report Immigration Scams” tab they is information on where to report scams in your state as well as links to the laws that protect you as a consumer.

You can always report scams directly to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to be tracked in Consumer Sentinel at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/.

There is also a website that collects scams, frauds, phishing, and generally false email chains, if you are interested: www.snopes.com

Photo from http://www.uscis.gov

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