Health & Safety Resources

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Unfortunately, many international students can fall victim to criminals impersonating government officials online, via email or by telephone.  They may claim to be officials from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other agencies. These criminals try to gain access to personal information (name, date of birth, social security number, address) or they may try to scare students into paying them money.  Read through the information on this page and follow the steps below to protect yourself from falling victim to a criminal/scammer.

  1. Government officials will not call/email you asking for money.
    Contact ISSS if you receive a phone call/email from someone claiming to be a government official asking for money. Do NOT pay by phone.  Do NOT give out or “confirm” your date of birth or your social security number by phone.  Collect all the information you can about the office (name of the government office, amount of money, reason you must pay) and tell them you need to speak with ISSS first. HANG UP THE PHONE!
  1. Government officials will not use fear!
    Government officials will never threaten to immediately arrest or deport you if you don’t pay a fee or a tax over the phone. Many criminals/scammers may tell you that if you don’t pay the police will be dispatched to your apartment to arrest you.  This is a scam.  HANG UP THE PHONE!
  2. Government officials will never ask you to pay a debt using gift cards.
    Government officials will never ask you to pay a debt by purchasing gift cards from Target, Walmart, Amazon etc. If anyone asks you to pay a debt this way, this is a scam.
  3. Government offices (IRS, USCIS, DHS) will send paper notices by postal mail.
    Government office will always send paper notices by postal mail with updates about your status, pending cases or if there are fees owed. If you receive an unexpected paper notice from a government office come to ISSS to verify its authenticity.
  4. Government offices may email you.
    The embassy/consulate in your home country may send email to the email address you used to schedule your visa appointment.  The Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) may send you email if you have not paid the SEVIS I-901 fee.  Come to ISSS with these notices to verify their authenticity.
  5. ISSS WILL contact you by email or telephone.
    If you receive an email/voicemail from ISSS, this is serious UConn business and you should follow up with ISSS staff about the issue.
  6. Some legitimate institutions will require your personal information.
    For example if you have a bank account in the U.S. they will require your date of birth and your social security number, but they will never call you and ask for this over the phone.  They will either ask you to come into the bank with this information or postal mail you official paperwork to submit to the bank. Similarly, when you apply for services that involve a check of your credit history (e.g. apartment rental, mobile phone purchase), you will be asked on the application form to provide your social security number, if you have one.
  7. Know about the different types of scams:
    1. IRS Impersonators (claiming you owe unpaid taxes)
    2. Immigration Impersonators (claiming to be USCIS, DHS, “U.S. Immigration” telling you that you owe an international student “tax”, “fee”, or “immigrant tax”, and you will be deported)
    3. Kidnapping Scam – you are told that your family overseas has been kidnapped and you must pay for their release. Scammers scare you and keep you on the phone so you cannot contact your family.  Ask for proof, ask to speak with your family, use Facebook, messenger apps, twitter etc. to connect and confirm your family’s situation, before you send them money, believing they are actually kidnapped.
    4. Identity Theft – Identity theft is when criminals steal your personal identifying information (e.g. SSN, Date of Birth, ID information) and use it for financial gain. Learn more about how to protect yourself!
    5. Job Scams – Be wary of companies that ask you pay them to help you get a job. Always contact ISSS and make sure you have proper work authorization before you work off-campus.
    6. Online Dating/Social Media Scams – making new friends online is great, but beware of people you don’t know who may try to lure you off of the dating site or get you to share personal information with them for financial gain.
    7. Apartments for Rent and Items for Sale – be careful when purchasing items from individuals advertised online. Never go to a stranger’s house alone to purchase an item.  Meet in a public place, bring a friend or notify your friend of your whereabouts.  Be careful not to pay for a car or apartment without testing it or viewing it first. Some scammers will post photos of apartments or houses they do not own and try to get you to pay a deposit to them. Always visit legitimate resources to search for apartments like offcampushousing.uconn.edu or the website of a realty company.

What to do if you feel you are being scammed

  1. Report the scam to UConn Police (860)486-4800
  2. Report the scam to ISSS (860)486-3855 or international@uconn.edu
  3. Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission
  4. Report Identity Theft (SSN, Personal ID or Debit Credit Card) to Federal Trade Commission
  5. Report the scan to the agency or company from which the scammer claims to be calling, in the case of fraudulent calls. All government agencies will have a section of their website that talks about fraudulent activity and scams, and how to report it to that office.

Resources

Federal Trade Commission Publication: Spotting, Avoiding & Reporting Scams: A Fraud Handbook for Recent Refugees and Immigrants

Federal Trade Commission Publication: IRS Imposter Scams

Federal Trade Commission Publication: Online Dating Scams

Federal Trade Commission Publication: Job Scams

SEVP Notice On Scams

USCIS: Avoid Scams

USCIS: Most Common Scams

Coming Soon!