New America Media, News Report
Scammers are posing as immigration officials, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), calling visa applicants to demand personal and monetary information and threatening to deport or arrest applicants if they don’t obey. They have even spoofed the USCIS phone number on phones to make their calls look legitimate. The BBB urges consumers to never give out personal information to these callers and to ignore them.
Sometimes the caller may know who the person is, including name and address. They inform the individual that the government is charging a new fee for visa applicants and you must pay right away via wire transfer. Not only are visa applicants requested to pay immediately, but in some cases are also asked for personal information, including social security and bank account numbers.
“Immigrants who may speak little to no English can easily fall prey to callers pretending to be from the USCIS,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “When in doubt, hang up the phone and don’t let these scammers fool you into stealing your personal information, no matter how convincing the number on the phone looks.”
The BBB offers the following tips:
* Never wire money to these callers. Real representatives from the USCIS will never require people to give money over the phone.
* Just hang up the phone. If someone claiming to be from the USCIS calls you, hang up and don’t call back. If you call back, sometimes scammers make it seem like you are calling the real USCIS to trick you.
* Never give out personal information. No matter what the caller says to you, never give out your I-94 number, “A” number or visa control number.
* Know the real USCIS contact information. If you get a call from a scammer, call the real USCIS number, which is 1-800-375-5283. Tell them about your situation.