Frauds and Scams

Please be aware of potentially fraudulent phone calls and emails from individuals posing as law enforcement (such as the Albany County Police Department, Department of Homeland Security, or the IRS). It is very unusual for the IRS and other federal agents to reach out via phone and even email. Often, the callers/emailers will demand money or threaten imprisonment or deportation. 

Signs The Call is a Fraud/Scam

 

  • The individual identifies themselves as law enforcement or a federal official (for example, the police, Department of Homeland Security, or the IRS) and demands payment or threatens imprisonment or deportation.  Federal and/or law enforcement officials do not make these types of phone calls, and never demand money over the phone.
  • Demands of payment or request for personal information
  • You have not received anything in the mail from an official agency
  • Calls from unknown numbers (fraudsters can mask the numbers to appear as if they are coming from somewhere else, so it is important to call an agency or police department back directly)
  • The caller may even know personal information about you (name, address, school, etc...), but they have likely gathered that information from online sources (like social media).  Just because they know information does not mean it is a legitimate call.

 

What Should You Do?

To ensure your safety, please keep in mind the following if you receive a phone call demanding money and/or threatening a legal action:

 

  • Unsolicited requests for personal or financial information are highly suspect. Government officers do not call asking for money or personal information.
  • Do not provide any personal information (address, degree information, contact information, Social Security Number, Credit Card Number, birth date, etc…) or payment information over the phone or as a response to a fraudulent email.
  • Call the agency (be it the police or IRS) directly. Fraudsters can mask their number to appear as if the call is coming from the police department or another agency, so you may need to call the actual agency number directly. Check for the agency’s actual number online or contact our office for information
  •  Do not meet anyone at any location to make a payment unless you have initiated the process and are meeting at a verified business address.
  • You may wish to file a police report if you receive a fraudulent call or email, especially if the person calling has your personal information
  • Be careful about sharing any personal information online, such as through social media. The person calling may know information about you, but they have likely gathered that information through internet sources. Just because someone knows your information does not mean the call is legitimate.

 

Financial Frauds/Scams Related to Tuition Payment

EPay is the official University system for tuition payments.  It someone contacts you offering you an alternative payment method (such as paying through a "consultant" or "contractor" first, before having your bill paid) this is likely a fraud/scam.  Please contact ISSS and the SFC immediately for assistance.

 

Frauds/Scams Where Caller Falsely Represent Self as Federal Agent (ICE)

There have been reports of fraudsters claiming they are ICE agents and demanding money.  ICE will never seek payment by internet or phone.  Below is information shared from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP-ICE)

Below are some resources to help students protect themselves from being a victim of a scam.  Remember, ICE officials will never offer immigration services in exchange for payment using the internet or phone.  Nor will they use a third-party to solicit or collect a fee.  Stakeholders should report any fraudulent schemes to the ICE Tip Line at 1-866-347-2423.  Please see the following additional resources that contain reminders and best practices to avoid scams targeting international students:

 

Other Examples of Past Frauds/Scams

  • Recently, the Albany FBI Field Office has shared a FBI Liaison Information Report which provides information related to “Criminals Posing as Chinese Law Enforcement in Phone Scams to Target Chinese Citizens on Student Visas at U.S.-Based Colleges and Universities for Financial Gain.” 
  • Students have received calls from individuals posing as the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and claiming a student is behind on their taxes and either needs to pay immediately or risk being deported.  This is a scam.  The IRS does not make phone calls demanding money.
  • Students have received calls from individuals posing as DHS (ICE, CBP, or USCIS) claiming the student has violated status and risks deportation unless they pay a "fine."  This is a scam.  DHS does not make phone calls demanding money
  • Students have received calls appearing to be from the Albany County Police Department and demanding money.  Police agencies will not demand your money over the phone.
  • Read ITS's tips on how to avoid "phishing" attacks online (where hackers gather your personal data): https://www.albany.edu/its/86734.php
  • The Office of Information Technology Services has notified our office that there is an Academic Misconduct Scam targeting our Chinese students. The scammer sends a fake warning about an academic misconduct incident and then requests payment to cover the costs of the investigation.

 

More Resources For Avoiding Consumer Fraud

 

If you have any questions or receive a phone call like one outlined above, please do not hesitate to contact ISSS with questions or concerns.