Immigration Beware of scammers targeting international students and scholars

February 16, 2021
By International Student & Scholar Services

There have been reports of Penn international students and scholars being targeted by scammers impersonating officials from IRS (Internal Revenue Service), ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), CBP (Customs and Border Protection), FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), a U.S. Consulate, law enforcement, or other government agencies. These scammers, who manipulate their phone number to falsely appear to be calling from an official agency, deceive people into believing that their immigration status is in jeopardy or that they must pay money or go to a location to avoid arrest.

Remember that legitimate US authorities will never contact you by telephone or email to demand payment of any kind or threaten to terminate your immigration status unless you hand over money, sexual favors, or merchandise.

Here is what to do if you receive a call or email from someone impersonating a government official or other agent:

  1. Do not provide any personal information. If someone asks you for money, never provide your bank account information, never purchase gift cards for them, and never give out your social security number if you have one. If you have been contacted by email, text message, or phone, ask for their name and phone number and end the conversation.
  2. Contact ISSS ( or notify your assigned ISSS Advisor right away.
  3. Contact Penn’s Division of Public Safety first before you provide any personal information to someone you do not know. Call 215-573-3333 or email

The scammer may have specific information about you (where you are from, your school etc.) that they discover from public or hacked information so they may appear to be legitimate, but it is best to first contact Penn’s Division of Public Safety.

More Information & Resources

Penn Division of Public Safety Resources

Division of Public Safety Contact Information

  • Emergencies: 215-573-3333 or 511 (from any campus phone)
  • Help Line: 215-898-HELP (4357)
  • Special Services: 215/898-6600
  • Escort Services:
    • Walking 215-898-WALK (9255)
    • Penn Transit Ride Service 215-898-RIDE (7433)
  • General Information: 215-898-7297