Scams and Fraud

Staying safe from scams

Scammers often target international students and scholars across the U.S. They frequently act like government or immigration officials to scare you into giving out money or personal information.

If you ever receive a phone call or email asking about your immigration status, personal information, or seeking immediate payment, be suspicious. It is important that you protect your personal information.

U.S. government agencies or representatives will not require payment from you over phone or email. All requests for official payments will arrive on government stationery. Our office will always use your IU email for formal communication.

Contact us with any questions about potential scams. Reporting scams will not affect your immigration application, petition, or status.

Example scam

You may receive a call from someone requesting your personal information and threatening you by saying the police (or other agencies) will arrest or deport you for not filling out a form or not paying your taxes. They may also accuse you of having a suspended social security number.

The call may be a robo-call (meaning it's a recording and not a human that is talking) making urgent callback requests. Sometimes criminals even use spoofing services to choose the number or name that shows up on your phone. That means the call may appear to be coming from a government agency, but it is a trick.

It's also possible that the scammer might have your personal information such as your name, birthday, and the last four characters of your I-94 identifier.

If contacted in this manner, you should immediately be suspicious. Ask for the person's full name, agency, reporting office, and a government telephone number to call the person back. They will likely tell you must act immediately. Don't believe them. End the call and seek guidance from our office.

See a list of common scams

What to do if a scammer contacts you

  • If you receive a call demanding personal information or payment, hang up immediately.
  • If you receive an email demanding personal information or payment, do not respond.
  • You can contact our office for guidance if you’re not sure if something is real.
  • You can verify if you were contacted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by doing one of the following:
    • Call the National Customer Service Center (1-800-375-5283) to ask if you need to do anything about your case or immigration status.
    • Make an InfoPass appointment.
    • Use myUSCIS to find up-to-date information about your application (if you have one).

Reporting a scam

You can report scams in one or more of the following ways.

  • If you receive a suspicious email, forward it to USCIS at
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 877-FTC-Help or file a complaint online.
  • Call the IU Police Department (812-855-4111).

Being a smart consumer

Ultimately, we want you to think critically about things before you respond. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While we may want to believe that people are honest, it isn't always true.

If someone is pressuring you to make a quick decision, that’s probably a sign that something isn’t quite right.

If you’re signing up for a service or purchase online—and it’s not a website known to you—review the terms and conditions instead of just automatically clicking the box that says you agree.

You should always guard your personal and financial information carefully.

If in doubt, IU Student Legal Services may be able to help.