Public Service Announcement – USCIS Warns on Scams Aimed at Immigrants

Avoid Scammers!A wave of scams are making their way through immigrant communities across the nation as United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues a warning about Caller ID spoofing.  With the scam, perpetrators extort money or information from their target victims.

With Caller ID spoofing, scammers deceive their target victims by sending a false name and / or phone number to the target victim’s phone display. Once the recipient is made to feel as if the phone call is made in an official capacity— that it comes from someone working at USCIS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—scammers use their trickery to bilk victims and their families out of money or personal information.

Personal information could include Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or other information.  Providing a scammer with a Social Security number is a set up for identity theft. Providing a bank account number could give thieves a means of wiping out account balances.

According to a late June 2015 USCIS blog entry, scammers portray themselves in a capacity and then proceed to make “threats such as deportation and tells you to make a money transfer or go to a store or drug store to purchase a money order, voucher or make some other type of money exchange, payment or withdrawal.” Recipients of these fraudulent phone calls  are advised, “Do not go along with it—hang up and report it!”

The USCIS report goes on to say, “USCIS never asks for any form of payment or personal information over the phone. Do not give payment or personal information over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official. In general, we encourage you to protect your personal information and not to provide details about your immigration application in any public area.

Immigrants are all-too-often the targets of scams.  Besides USCIS’ actions to protect immigrants against fraud, a number of states have likewise taken steps to protect foreign nationals.