Immigration Beware of scammers targeting international students and scholars
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February 16, 2021
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:
- 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.
- Contact ISSS (https://global.upenn.edu/isss/contact-isss) or notify your assigned ISSS Advisor right away.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
- Beware of a recent scam by those who say they are from ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2019/bewareICEimposters.pdf
- Department of Homeland Security / USCIS has a webpage on common immigration scams and how to avoid them: https://www.uscis.gov/avoid-scams/common-scams
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a webpage dedicated to tax scams, providing information on how to recognize them and how to report them: https://www.irs.gov/uac/report-phishing
- Beware of scammers that claim to be from the FBI. Visit the FBI website to learn about common scams: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes
- For Mandarin speakers, be aware of fraudulent phone calls from someone pretending to be from the Chinese consulate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5T9qunJKdaw&feature=emb_title
- Learn how to protect your personal data on Penn’s Privacy website: https://www.upenn.edu/oacp/privacy/yourdata/
- Penn keeps a list of phishing emails on this page: https://www.isc.upenn.edu/phishing-spear-phishing
Penn Division of Public Safety Resources
- Walking Escorts and Riding Escorts available free of charge;
- UPennAlert Emergency Notification System and Penn Guardian System, which can help Police better find your location in an emergency:
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