Avoiding Scams

What are scams?

International students and scholars at Columbia and across the U.S. have received phone calls purporting to be from the U.S. government with detailed knowledge regarding their majors/studies and demanding money for for a variety of fake reasons, including unpaid taxes, a problem with their immigration status, or identity theft of their SSN.

These calls and emails may come from individuals posing as:

  • IRS (Internal Revenue Service)
  • FBI
  • CBP (Customs and Border Protection)
  • ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
  • U.S. Consulates
  • other government agencies

4 Tips to Stay Safe

Number 1
Always Be Vigilant

Always be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls and emails.

Step 2
Never give out personal information or money

Never give money or personal information to someone with whom you don't have ties and did not initiate contact. A legitimate government employee or official will never ask a member of the public for payment of any kind.


Step 3.
Trust your instincts

If an unknown caller makes you uncomfortable or says things that don't sound right, hang up.

Step 4.
If you see something, say something

CUIT regularly warns the university community to “be skeptical and avoid phishing scams” and provides Phishing Email Alerts.

Video Resources

ISSO recommends you watch these two informational videos.