Jun 16, 2024  
International Student Handbook 
International Student Handbook

Scams & Fraud Targeting International Students

Scammer Tactics

International students should beware of scams and fraud at all times. Scammers will identify themselves as police officers, government officials, SEVP, USCIS, ICE agents, IRS tax representatives, or university officials. These scammers will:

  • Use threatening tactics such as dismissal from the university, deportation from the US, or pending police arrest if payment is not made immediately. 
  • Call to demand immediate payment for taxes or debt.

  • Threats to call the police or have you deported.

  • Deny your ability to appeal or question the payment.

  • Require specific payment through prepaid cards:

  • Ask for sensitive information (SSN, date of birth, address, bank, or credit card number).

  • Redirect you to unsecure websites or unauthorized email and text messages.

 IRS Scams

International students should beware of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scams related to tax filing and tax refund checks. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message, or social media channels to request personal or financial information. If a taxpayer provides an email address to the IRS, the IRS may send an email with information, but the email will not include links to claim a refund or ask for any secure information such as social security number, date of birth, or bank account information.

The IRS does NOT:

  • Send requests for PIN numbers, passwords, or similar access information for credit cards, banks, or other financial accounts.

  • Accept gift cards as payment. If you receive a phone call or email claiming that your tax payment is due in the form of a gift card, this is a scam.

  • Visit https://www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/report-phishing for more information.


Scam Emails Impersonating the IRS

A common IRS-impersonation scam targets individuals associated with educational institutions, specifically students and staff who have an “.edu” email address. The individual receives a phishing email seemingly from “irs.gov” that displays an impressive, yet fake, IRS logo and uses various subject lines, such as “Tax Refund Payment” or “Recalculation of your tax refund payment.” The email directs the individual to click on a link and submit personal information to claim their tax refund.
Individuals who receive an IRS email scam should:
  • NOT click on any link in the email.

  • NOT reply to the email.

  • Save the email using “save as” and then send that as an attachment to phishing@irs.gov or forward the email as an attachment to phishing@irs.gov

  • Report the scam email using the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting form or by calling 800-366-4484.

  • Report the scam email to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. They should add “IRS Email scam” in the notes.

Scam Phone Calls Impersonating the IRS

Another common IRS impersonation scam are phone calls from individuals pretending to represent the IRS.

The IRS will NEVER:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.

  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.

  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

  • Call unexpectedly about a tax refund.

Taxpayers who receive scam phone calls should:

How to Protect Yourself from Scams/Fraud

  • If you suspect fraud, end the conversation immediately. 

  • Never share any personal or financial information (SSN, date of birth, address, bank, or credit card number).

  • Do not send money through the mail or electronic transfer.

  • Do not click on suspicious links or unsecured access to websites.

  • Do not open email attachments from unknown senders.

How to Report Scams/Fraud