There have been an increasing number of reports in various scams targeting international students and scholars including postal service delivery, social security, and health insurance. Some are housing and rental scams where exchange visitors transfer money before they start their program to a fraudulent realtor or landlord, scamming the victims out of hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Other reported scams involve phone calls from alleged government representatives demanding personal information and money with threats of deportation from the U.S. Please see below for guides on common scams:
General safety tips for phone and email scams
- The IRS, the police and the immigration service will NEVER ask for any form of payment, including gift cards, to avoid an arrest.
- If you are an international student, confirm any communications with your government by calling your local consulate.
- Always be suspicious of phone calls from unknown individuals or phone numbers that you do not recognize. Real telephone numbers can be ‘spoofed’. If in doubt, you can look up the real phone numbers and call these numbers back yourself.
- Do not conduct business over the phone with callers you do not know.
- Never share your online information with anyone.
- Never share personal or financial information over the phone or the Internet with someone you do not know, for example, social security number, debit/credit/pre-paid card numbers, etc.
- If anyone contacts you and asks you to pay or send them money using Bitcoin, wire transfer, or pre-paid cards of any sort, this is probably a scam.
- If anyone calls asking for payment due to your involvement in a criminal case, hang up the phone and call your local police department.
- If you cannot verify the caller’s identity, feel unsafe, or suspect criminal activity, call the University Police Department at 662-915-7234
Social Security and Tax Scams
Some scams include people asking for your Social Security Number. NEVER GIVE OUT THIS INFORMATION unless you know 100% that the person asking is legitimate. The Social Security Administration recommends that you call SSA’s toll-free number, 800-772-1213, to verify the reason for the contact and the person’s identity prior to providing any information to the caller.
You can also call the Social Security fraud hotline: 800-269-0271. The Federal Trade Commission is warning that Social Security-related scams have heated up. You can file a complaint about such impostor scams, including Social Security or IRS scams, at the FTC at http://reportfraud.ftc.gov/
If you aren’t sure what to look out for, please check out these resources:
Here is an example of what a common scam sounds like: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/12/what-social-security-scam-sounds
When it comes to filing your taxes, it is helpful to be aware of some scams associated with taxes. Please watch the following videos to familiarize yourself:
Federal Trade Commissions:
There have been an increasing number of reports in various scams targeting international students and scholars. Some are housing and rental scams where incoming students transfer money before they start their program to a fraudulent realtor or landlord, scamming the victims out of hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Contact Tracing COVID – 19 Scam
Please refer to the links below for helpful resources to educate yourself on how to protect your identity and information.
Check out the FTC’s post “What to do when someone steals your identity“
The Social Security Administration recommends that you call SSA’s toll-free number, 800-772-1213, to verify the reason for the contact and the person’s identity prior to providing any information to the caller.
You can also call the Social Security fraud hotline: 800-269-0271. The Federal Trade Commission is warning that Social Security-related scams have heated up. You can report fraud at: http://reportfraud.ftc.gov/ If you suspect a scam is taking place, please do not hesitate to use the contact info to report scams at the above websites or phone numbers.
REMEMBER: Think before you act and double check with the Office of International Programs, UPD, or your nearest consulate if something you have been contacted about doesn’t seem right.