Skip to content

Announcements : Scams and Fraud

Announcement: Scams and Fraud

How to recognize and avoid scams and fraud targeting international students.

While at Denison, we hope that you will not be contacted by someone attempting to “scam” or defraud you of your money or personal information. As is true anywhere in the world, there are people who attempt to take advantage of international students. We hope that the information provided here will help you learn how to identify a scam and avoid falling victim to the scheme. 
Understand the Threats
Common Scam Themes
  • The caller ID or phone number looks like a government agency or police, and the caller may claim to be a government representative. Many times they may claim to be from the IRS collecting taxes or from the Social Security Administration; they may also claim to be from USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services).
  • A claim is made that you owe money or have committed some kind of fraud.
  • A caller or letter will use fear, threats, and intimidation to get what they want.
  • A scam requires immediate action.
  • A scam includes a punishment (often threats of deportation or arrest) for not acting immediately.
  • A scammer will keep you on the phone for a long time and will not let you hang up to call back later.
  • A scammer will ask for non-traditional payment methods such as gift cards.
  • A scammer will use lots of legal-sounding language such as “federal regulations” and “visa fee” to sound as legitimate as possible.  

Common Scams
  • A person or company attempt to collect the tax refund that is rightfully yours.
  • Rental scams where you deposit money for a holiday stay and no one meets you to give you the keys.
  • Online scams when purchasing items on the internet and the person wants you to PayPal or Venmo them the money.
  • Job offers that send you a check and require you to immediately purchase a money order and mail it while the check is being processed by your bank.
  • Calls demanding an “international student tax” or “visa fee” which directs the victim to wire money or buy gift cards.
  • A website charging fees to enter the Green Card Lottery.
  • The caller ID or phone number looks like a government agency or police, and the caller may claim to be a government representative (many times they may claim to be from the IRS collecting taxes, from the Social Security Administration or most recently from the SEVP response center or Department of Homeland Security).
  • Callers claim to be part of your home country's law enforcement and demand that you wire money for bail.

Exercise Caution
In general, no government agency or reputable company will call or email you unexpectedly and request your personal information, or request advance fees for services in the form of wire transfers or gift cards.
  • Department of Homeland Security may call you regarding your SEVIS record, but they will never ask for money over the phone. If you receive a phone call from the SEVP Response Center, Department of Homeland Security, or a Homeland Security Investigations phone number, please report it immediately here.
  • Foreign law enforcement conducting legitimate activity in the US must coordinate with US federal authorities. It is highly unlikely you would ever receive a legitimate phone call from your home "police" indicating that you are in trouble and need to transfer money.
  • Verify the identity of anyone who asks for your personal information over the phone. Ask for a caller's name, ID badge, and phone number and request that you call them back or respond through the entity's customer service channels.
  • Do not cash checks that arrive in the mail unexpectedly.
  • Do not sign contracts without reading them and fully understanding the content.
  • Avoid providing personal data, such as banking information or your social security number, to unknown persons over the phone or internet.
  • Scammers may know basic information about you and use that as 'proof', however this information is likely easily searchable online. It's a good idea to check how much of your information is public, such as your phone number and address.
  • If anyone pressures you to provide information or money over the phone, it's a scam and you should just hang up.   
Secure Your Information
  • Store your Social Security card in a secure location; avoid carrying it with you.
  • Shred documents that list personal information such as your Social Security number and banking information (ISS has a shredder you can use if you need to).
  • Avoid opening emails from unknown sources or clicking on suspicious hyperlinks.
  • Equip your computing devices with strong anti-virus software and maintain strong passwords.
  • Regularly check your credit reports for suspicious activity. 
  • Do not make purchases online with your bank/debit card, instead use a credit card.
  • Do not post your phone number on Linked-In or any social media site.
Report Anything Suspicious to ISS and Campus Safety
  • If you receive a concerning or suspicious call.
  • If a letter arrives in the mail which includes threats for not acting.
  • If anyone requires you to pay via gift cards.
  • If an employer is acting unethically by requiring you to pay money to receive a job offer, or an employment agency is offering to create fake credentials.
  • Remember: when one person reports a scam, ISS and Campus Safety can alert all of our international students.
Resources for More Information
Here's a video created by UC Davis on scams that target international students. 

Information derived from publication by Yale University’s Office of International Students and Scholars and resources shared by ACM schools.