Unfortunately, many F-1 and J-1 international students have been common targets for scams. Scams are fraudulent or deceptive services that try to acquire money or personal information illegally.
If you feel that you have been a victim of a scam and you have provided personal information or payment, please file a police report or report this directly to the FBI.
Telephone scams can also be reported to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).
Please visit usa.gov to obtain the most recent and complete list of scams. If you are unsure if a request for information is a scam, we advise you follow the following steps:
- Always be cautious and never give out your social security number, passport number, bank account information, or physical address to an unverified source or organization.
- Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.
- Change your passwords consistently.
- Do not provide personal information over the phone to an unsolicited caller. Most government agencies will send you written correspondence via post if they need to communicate with you, they will not call you. We recommend that you also block their number.
- Providing such information can result in severe financial loss or identity theft.
The following are scams recently reported to ISSS by international students. We recommend you check this list regularly, and report any suspected scam activity to an ISSS advisor.
- Social Security Scam: Scammers posing as representatives of the Social Security Administration will call you and ask for personal information such as physical address and bank account information. They proceed to claim that your social security number has been compromised by a criminal organization or that there has been fraudulent activity associated with the bank account(s) linked to your SSN.
- Social Security Scam (#2): Impostors posing as representatives of the Social Security Administration will call and threaten to discontinue your social security benefits unless you provide them personal information.
- USCIS Scam: Scammers claiming to be representatives of USCIS will call you and claim to know much of your personal information, including your Social Security Number. They will then ask you to fill out an Ar-11 form, as well as additional forms. Scam callers have also asked for the last 4 digits of the victim’s SSN, in addition to other personal information such as physical address, passport number, and bank account number
- DHS Telephone Spoofing Scam: Impostors posing as representatives of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), who engage in “telephone spoofing,” in which they alter caller ID systems to make it appear that they are calling from DHS. Fraudsters will ask for your personal information (passport number, bank account, contact information) and threaten Deportation should you not comply. They will also demand a fine and require that you load it onto a gift card (e.g., Apple, eBay, etc.).
- 911 Scam: Telephone scammers will claim to be 911 dispatchers who demand money because of a contrived criminal offense. In some instances, they have requested students to transfer money onto a Google Play card
- DS-230 Scam: Scammers will claim to be government officials and call from a Washington, D.C. phone number. They will claim that you did not submit your DS 230 (Immigrant Visa & Alien Registration form) and that a case has been filed against you.
- Chinese Consulate & Embassy Scam(s): Fraudsters impersonating Chinese Consulate and Embassy officials will call and say
that an important package has been sent to you that needs to be confirmed by providing
your personal information. Another scam entails fraudsters once again impersonating
Chinese Consulate and Embassy personnel, who claim that you committed a crime and
consequently will have to provide personal information. They also tell the intended
target that their status will be terminated in the U.S. and their family may be in
danger or possibly kidnapped. These scams primarily target Chinese students. Please
review the following helpful links for more specific information about these scams:
- Academic Integrity Violation Scam:
Some sites which are commonly used to purchase papers by students are attempting to charge fees. Should you receive a message asking you to pay money due to an Academic Integrity violation, please do not respond, block the sender; and promptly send this message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Some messages may even threaten expulsion. Should you be formally notified of an Academic Integrity violation, you will receive a formal letter through Maxient, a system in which SJSU has a contract. The message will invite you to have a meeting with a Student Conduct Administrator.
Recruiting Scam: Scammers posing as Human Resources representatives of legitimate, incorporated companies will contact students exclusively via Google Chat. The "Recruiter" will offer the student a position with the company without any formal interview or a standard background and credential review. The scammer tells the student that the company will write a check out to the student after the hiring process is complete so the student can purchase "home office equipment."
- ICE Imposter Scam: Individuals are impersonating ICE Agents across the country and specifically targeting international students who have valid (F-1/J-1) status. The scammers will first spoof a local ICE phone number, call the student from this spoofed ICE telephone number, and tell the student that their status is in jeopardy. The student is then told that they can either proceed to a specific ICE location or pay a disclosed amount to resolve the issue. The scammers have been reported to be very knowledgeable in immigration (F-1/J-1) terminology and can therefore be rather convincing.
- USCIS (AR-11) Scam: Students receive emails from a clearly fraudulent email address, "email@example.com," which accuses students of not completing their AR-11 (Alien's Change of Address card). As a result, the email threatens the student with possible fines, imprisonment, or deportation unless you agree to a "background check" from the Department of Justice. A phone number is then provided so students can call the DoJ to administer the alleged background check. Please ignore/block this email and do not call or receive calls from the number provided in the email! This scam is similiar to the USCIS Scam mentioned above.
USCIS common scams
Social Security Scams
USA.gov Scams and Frauds
FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center
DHS Fraud Alert Federal Trade Commision (FTC) Complaint Assistant (telephone scams) Consumer Complaint Center (telephone spoofing)