International Students Targeted in Scams

There have been a number of recent reports of international students and scholars receiving calls from people claiming to be from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Social Security Administration (SSA), and or Homeland Security. Please note that United States federal agencies such as USCIS, SSA, or Homeland Security will never call and ask for money for training, products, forms, or to correct immigration records. They will not ask to verify personal information such as your social security number (SSN)/ITIN, bank accounts, or credit card details.

If you receive a call requesting your financial or personal information, do not respond; hang up the phone. U.S. federal agencies do not call to ask for any form of payment over the phone. Do NOT give payment information or personal information about yourself over the phone to anyone claiming to be a government official.

IRS Tax-Related Scams and Identity Theft

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not contact you via email/phone. If you receive such an email, do not open it, as it likely contains some sort of virus or malware. You should never provide your SSN/ITIN to anyone via email.  Students using the Sprintax software to file their taxes should note that the Sprintax support center will never ask you to send your SSN/ITIN via email—and you should never include it when sending a support email.

Refund Email Scam

There are several variations of the refund scam, in which an email claiming to come from the IRS falsely informs the recipient that he or she is eligible for a tax refund for a specific amount. The bogus email instructs the recipient to click on a link to access a refund claim form. The form requests personal information that the scammers can use to access the email recipient’s bank or credit card account. This notification is phony. The IRS does not send unsolicited emails about tax account matters to taxpayers.  Filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax refund; there is no separate application form.

What to Do if You Receive a Call

If the caller identifies themselves as a government official, hang up immediately. It is a scam. Government departments do not call and threaten students, request bank information, or any other personal details. Report the call to Illinois Tech’s International Center by stopping in, calling, or emailing

Helpful tip: Do not answer a call if you do not know the number/person calling. Instead, let it go to voicemail. You can always return the call if it is someone you know. If the voicemail claims to be from USCIS/Immigration/IRS, it is a scam.  Students may stop by the International Center to receive assistance if an email such as this is received.

More information can be found on the following websites:

Avoiding USCIS scams
Common Immigration Scams
USCIS brochure: UPIL Brochure_English