Scams & Identity Theft

International students and immigrants are often targeted by phone and email scams. These criminals often pose as local law enforcement or a federal agent, claiming the student owes money and saying the student could be arrested or deported if the money is not paid. Frequently, scam artists use software to change the information shown on caller ID to real government phone numbers like the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or even 911.

The number of scams can increase around times immigrants or international students are particularly vulnerable. For example, we often receive reports from international students at the beginning of the school year, during tax season or when there are changes in immigration policies.

Know The Following

  1. Law enforcement agencies will NEVER call to warn that you could be arrested or fined.
  2. These agencies will NEVER call to demand an immediate payment over the phone, and they WILL NOT ask for your credit or debit card number over the phone.
  3. NEVER open, respond to, or click on links in a suspicious email (even if it appears to be from an official source). The University of Minnesota will NOT ask you to provide personal information in email or on an unsecured website.
  4. Do NOT use unsecured wi-fi networks to do shopping or other activities where you will provide financial information.
  5. You should ALWAYS shred credit card applications, bank statements, and other financial paperwork before putting them in the recycling or trash.
  6. If you receive a phone call or email from someone stating you could be arrested or jeopardize your immigration status if you do not pay them money or give them your personal information, IT IS FAKE. Do not pay them money, even if your caller ID shows the name or phone number of USCIS or a law enforcement agency.
  7. Protect the following information:
    1. Credit Card or Bank Information
    2. Internet Usernames & Passwords
    3. Tax, Social Security, or UMN ID Numbers
    4. Date of Birth
    5. ATM Pin

What You Should Do If You Are Contacted

  • If you receive a threatening phone call or email, please contact the MELP office immediately. We can help you report the call, and we want to gather information about these scams and provide support to people who have been affected.
  • If you have already paid money or become a victim of a phone or email scam, contact the UMN Police Department (612-624-2677).
  • If you received a phone call but did not pay money, report the call to Federal Trade Commission.
  • If you receive a suspicious email from a account, forward it to [email protected] and then delete it.

Additional Resources