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Important Notification About Scams
Illinois Tech’s Office of Global Services wants you to be aware of reports of international students and scholars receiving calls from people claiming to be from United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Chicago Police Department. These are scams. Please see below for more information about how you can protect yourself and what you should do if a scammer contacts you.
Recently, scammers have impersonated both ICE officials and Chicago police officers, and they have spoofed ICE and Chicago Police Department phone numbers. The scammers also have directed callers to ICE.gov to verify their information. The scammer then directed the victims to transfer money using an app such as Zelle. If someone claiming to be a government official or law enforcement officer calls you making threats such as deportation, beware! Hang up and report it!
Please note that the Chicago Police Department and United States federal agencies such as ICE, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will never call you and ask for money or gift cards, or threaten students with arrest and/or deportation. They will not ask you to verify your personal or financial information. Government officials will contact you only through official government channels and will not reach out to you through your personal social media accounts (such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).
Here’s How the Scam Works
A number appears on your caller identification that may look like a legitimate government number. When you answer, the person on the phone poses as a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official, some other government official, or a law enforcement officer. The scammer (or scammers) will say there is a problem with your application or additional information is required to continue the immigration process. Then they will often ask for sensitive personal and financial information, demand payment, and threaten you with deportation, arrest, or other negative consequences if you do not comply.
The scammer will then order victims to make a payment—and will often order them to go to a nearby bank or store and withdraw money or purchase a prepaid card, gift card, or voucher, or ask the victim to buy a money order or make some other wire transfer, money exchange, payment, or withdrawal. (Note that the scammers are often able to direct victims to nearby banks or stores by using online maps to study the area in which a victim resides.)
If you receive a call like that, hang up immediately. These government agencies will never ask for any form of payment over the phone or in an email. If they need payment, they will mail a letter on official stationery requesting payment. Do not give a payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official. In general, protect your personal information and do not provide details about your immigration application in any public area.
Steps You Can Take
Please report any suspicious calls or emails to the Office of Global Services and Illinois Tech’s Department of Public Safety.
If you have been a victim of this telephone or email scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission. If you receive a suspicious email or voice message and are not sure if it is a scam, forward it to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services webmaster at (firstname.lastname@example.org). They will review the messages received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate. Visit the Avoid Scams Initiative for more information on common scams and other important tips.