How would you feel if you received a call from someone claiming to be from the US government and they threatened to deport you? You would be scared and that is completely understandable!
But beware, it could just be a scam.
There have been reports of international students receiving phone calls on their personal cell phones from someone claiming to be from Department of Homeland Security. This caller somehow has the student’s I-94 number and passport information and engages the student in a long course of questions and intimidation, and threatens that the student will be immediately deported if they hang up the phone. Finally, the caller offers to leave the student alone for a fee and convinces the student to wire $800 via Western Union.
Sounds scary right? It is a scam. The scammer uses the threat of deportation to scare the student and scam money out of them. The student doesn’t want to get into trouble and doesn’t think they have the right to ask questions. But, international students DO have the right to ask people claiming to be authority figures to provide proof of their identity!
What should you do if you receive a call like this? You should:
1. Stay calm! Remember that would be strange for you to be contacted directly by phone by any government agency.
2. Ask what the call is about.
3. Politely request for the agent’s information. You should write down the agency, agent’s first and last name and any ID number they can provide. Also request their direct phone number so that you may call them back once you have consulted with an Advisor. If they do not want to give you information, it is probably a scam. Don’t believe their threats.
4. Hang up and contact an International Student Services Advisor immediately with any information you have. ISSS will help you investigate the reason for the call and put you in contact with assistance and the police if it turns out to be a fraudulent call.
Remember- you have RIGHTS! Don’t let a scammer threaten you or take your money. Contact ISSS if you receive any strange phone calls.
You can find more information about your rights when encountering law enforcement officials at the ACLU’s informative website: http://www.aclu.org/national-security/know-your-rights-when-encountering-law-enforcement