News: Phone scams targeting refugees make a resurgence
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) reminds everyone to be wary of unsolicited calls and messages that promise federal grants or other “free” money to refugees. Incidents of these phone scams appear to be on the rise again. Refugees receiving the calls are told that they are eligible for thousands of dollars in federal grant money—all theirs once they send a few hundred dollars by wire transfer to cover “processing fees”—or better yet, just send their bank account information so the funds can be deposited directly.
Also, in recent weeks, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) learned of a new telephone scam targeting USCIS applicants and petitioners. Scammers are using a technique called “Caller ID spoofing” to display a misleading or inaccurate phone number in a recipient’s Caller ID. The scammer poses as a USCIS official and requests personal information (such as Social Security number, passport number, or A-number), identifies supposed issues in the recipient’s immigration records, and asks for payment to correct these records. If you receive a call like that, USCIS urges you to say “No, thank you” and hang up immediately. 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.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is following these scam attempts, and encourages anyone contacted with similar scams to report them through the FTC website. Their Consumer Alert provides valuable tips on how to avoid being victimized, and what to do in case you are contacted. They also set up a web page, Avoiding Scams Against Immigrants, with information and materials in several languages.