Posted 13 June 2023
Common Scams Targeting International Students
Leaving your home to study in another country can be intimidating, but don’t be overwhelmed by protecting yourself against scams. Although international students can be a target for fraudsters, there are a few easy steps you can follow to avoid becoming a victim, including exercising caution as you respond to emails, texts, calls, and ads. Read on to learn of common scams international students might encounter and how to steer clear of them.
“Government official” outreach
This occurs when a fraudster posing as a “government official” contacts you claiming you owe money and requests your financial information, or calls or texts you to say you’ve violated immigration laws. Keep in mind real government officials will not ask for your account information or payments, and they don’t call or text individuals.
“International student tax” or “visa fee” scams
These can be recognized if you are contacted and asked to wire money or purchase gift cards in payment of these fees. To protect yourself, do not provide personal or financial information over the phone, through text, or by email. To learn about what tax forms you should file as an international student, visit the irs.gov website.
Tax refund scams
These attempts take place when someone asks you to fill out “third party tax forms” in attempt to steal your refund money. Remember, the IRS does not call, text, or email anyone with tax form requests or to provide updates. Never provide your personal information in response to these demands.
Gift card scams
Many scammers may ask you to purchase gift cards on their behalf, as payment for an employment offer, or to pay for something that threatens your residency. Do not purchase gift cards for requesting individuals. To stay up to date on the latest scams, visit usa.gov.
Some fraudsters pretend to be landlords or create fake rental listings in attempt to steal deposit money. To protect yourself, research the rental company or landlord, take a tour of the property and unit, and look for signs of ownership. Avoid offers that seem too good to be true, never make payments using gift cards, cash, or by sending wires, and don’t sign a lease unless you can publicly verify the property manager or owner.
Online and Marketplace scams
Whether you’re selling or buying an item, there are precautions to take. When making purchases, be skeptical of items listed at “too good to be true” prices, sellers with minimally-active or incomplete profiles, and anyone requesting a deposit. If you’re selling items, be wary of those who offer payment over a third party platform or wire, send an overpayment, or ask for your phone number.
Diversity Immigrant Visa program scams
Some scam artists target international students saying they can increase their chances of winning the Diversity immigrant Visa program (also referred to as the Green Card lottery) when, in fact, there is no way to do so. Ignore letters claiming you’ve won, and remember it’s free to enter at dvprogram.state.gov during annual registration periods.
To stay current with the latest scams and how to learn how to avoid them, try making a habit of reviewing the Federal Trade Commission’s website at consumer.ftc.gov/scams. Reporting fraud or fraudulent outreach can also be at this site. Filing a police report can also assist in creating a paper trail if you’ve become a victim. If you’ve provided financial information to someone you suspect to be a scammer, contact your financial institution as soon as possible.
©2023 Reseda Group LLC, used under license.