Scams and Fraud
While you are at Rutgers, please use the available resources and take steps to protect yourself from scams targeting international students. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in the number of scams targeting unsuspecting international students in recent years. Scammers can pose as immigration officials from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and other government agencies like the Department of State (DOS) or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Some scammers ask for money/gift-cards with the promise of finding/offering you a job. These scams can be very sophisticated, some-times with an apparently government phone number appearing on your caller ID, or the caller knowing a lot of your personal information. As you pursue your program of study in the U.S. and also search for valuable employment/internship opportunities, please be aware that these fraudulent activities exist and that you need to protect yourself from them. Exercise caution in your activities – such as paying your term bill, accepting any offer of employment, making payments over the phone, sharing your personal information, etc.
- If you feel unsafe, call the Rutgers University Police Department at 732-932-7211.
- If upset/anxious/need to talk to someone, walk-in to meet with a counselor during our Let’s Talk hours or contact Counseling, ADAP, and Psychological Services (CAPS).
- Always contact the Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to an International Student Adviser through our advising services if you think you have been contacted by someone trying to commit fraud. ISSS can help you determine if the situation is a scam and alert the international student and scholar community about the scam.
Common Scam Themes
- A scammer will ask for payment via methods such as gift cards.
- Emails that look like they are from Rutgers faculty or staff, but are not.
- The caller ID or phone number looks like a government agency or police.
- A caller, texter, or letter will use fear, threats, and intimidation to get what they want.
- A scam requires immediate action.
- A scam includes punishment (often threats of deportation or arrest) for not acting immediately.
- A scammer will keep you on the phone for a long time and will not let you hang up to call back later.
- A scammer will use lots of legal-sounding language such as “federal regulations” and “visa fee” to sound as legitimate as possible.
- Someone asks you to purchase gift cards on their behalf. Do not buy gift cards for someone else per their request.
- 'Government officials' (scammers using the official numbers) call or text to ask for financial information or to notify that you have violated immigration laws.
- Employment offers that require you to purchase gift cards.
- Third Party tax forms attempt to collect the refund that is rightfully yours.
- Rental scams where your deposit money is taken and no one meets you with the keys to move in.
- Online scams when purchasing items on Craigslist or EBay or through PayPal.
- Calls or emails demanding an “international student tax” or “visa fee” which directs the victim to wire money or buy gift cards.
- Calls or emails from someone who claims to be a government representative, and that you owe money or have committed some kind of fraud.
- A website charging fees to enter the Green Card Lottery.
Recent Scams (updated September 2022)
Tips to Avoid Scams
- If the caller sounds suspicious - Hang up!
- Don’t wire/pay any money on the phone. No government agency will ever call someone to ask for any form of payment over the phone. Department of Homeland Security may call you regarding your SEVIS record, but they will never ask for money over the phone.
- Do not meet up with the person.
- Do not share any personal or financial information, such as banking information or your SSN, to unknown persons over the phone or internet.
- Scammers may know basic information about you and use that as 'proof', however this information is likely easily searchable online. It's a good idea to check how much of your information is public, such as your phone number and address.
- Verify the identity of anyone who asks for your personal information over the phone. Ask for a caller's name, ID badge, and phone number and request that you call them back or respond through the entity's customer service channels.
- Do not cash checks that arrive in the mail unexpectedly.
- Do not sign contracts without reading them and fully understanding the content.Monitor/Change information–bank account, credit card, online accounts, passwords, etc. depending on the nature of the call/email.
Secure Your Information
- Store your Social Security card in a secure location; avoid carrying it with you.
- Shred documents that list personal information such as your Social Security number and banking information.
- Avoid opening emails from unknown sources or clicking on suspicious hyperlinks.
- Equip your computing devices with strong anti-virus software and maintain strong passwords.
- Regularly check your credit reports for suspicious activity.
Report Anything Suspicious to ISSS
- If you receive a concerning or suspicious call/email.
- If a letter arrives in the mail which includes threats for not acting.
- If an employer is acting unethically by requiring you to pay money to receive a job offer, or an employment agency is offering to create fake credentials.
- Remember: when one person reports a scam, ISSS can alert all of our international students and scholars.
Notify Authorities and Next Steps
- If you are the victim of a scam, notify ISSS and the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) at 732-932-7211 immediately.
- You can also report the scam to the FTC; NJ Division of Consumer Affairs; Homeland Security Investigations Tip Line; and/or USCIS.
- Report any fraudulent schemes to the anonymous ICE Tip Line: 1-866-347-2423
- If you have received a fraudulent email via your Rutgers email address, follow the instructions on the Rutgers IT site to report it.
- If you are concerned that your information may have been stolen or exposed, use IdentityTheft.gov's free tool to find out what you should do next. This will likely include running a free credit report , placing a credit card freeze or fraud alert, or obtaining credit monitoring services. Many credit cards offer credit monitoring services for free, so check your card benefits before paying for this service.
- Federal Trade Commission pamphlets in several languages
- Federal Trade Commission's listing of common scams
- USCIS webpages on how to avoid scams and where to report a scam
- Internal Revenue Service on Tax Scams / Consumer Alerts
- Study in the States: Tips to Avoid Scams
- Red Flags: Identify and Filter Out Job Scams (Rutgers Career Exploration and Success)
- Fraudulent Employer Scams (Rutgers Career Exploration and Success)
- NJ State Police Identity Theft Resources - includes information on contacting the MVC for license fraud
- Beware of ICE Imposters (flyer from USCIS)
MESSAGE FROM THE RUTGERS UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT (RUPD)
The Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) would like the community to be aware of the following common scams and fraudulent activity that have the potential to occur on college campuses:
- No Government Agency or Police Department will threaten you and demand payment via gift cards, wire transfer, bitcoin, prepaid debit cards, or various forms of payment to resolve an issue. An example of this type of scam could include a call indicating that you are tied to criminal activity and a warrant has been issued for your arrest, which can only be resolved by immediate payment via wire transfer, gift cards, crypto currency or via other monetary means.
- If you apply for a job and the employer sends you a check in the mail and requests you to deposit the check and send money back to the employer, this is a scam and the check is usually fraudulent. You will experience a loss of funds if you send anything of monetary value to the scammer.
- Avoid alleged investment opportunities observed on social media that propose you can make a profit by sending money to persons you have never met via online transactions.
- If you are contacted via email by someone who you believe is your boss or someone from the University and they request you to purchase gift cards and to provide them with the card numbers via phone or email, this is not a legitimate request.
- Be cautious when engaging in online romantic relationships that are developed solely on the basis of electronic communication.
MESSAGE FROM THE OFFICE OF STUDENT LEGAL SERVICES
We are happy to assist at the Office of Student Legal Services. All consultations are free and confidential.
1. Beware of scams and consumer fraud. International students are a particularly targeted population for scammers and have been subjected to various scams, including by way of one example, auto dealers who are claiming to sell cars to our international students but fail to deliver title, registration or insurance in our students’ names. The cases may involve legal issues which could include failure to pay sales tax; no contract to prove ownership; theft of identity; driving while uninsured; driving without registration; and insurance fraud. It is very important for our international students to deal only with reputable and licensed auto dealers. Do not sign a contract for purchase without having it reviewed by an attorney. Do not accept delivery of a vehicle without title and registration in your name. We recommend that you do not purchase or lease a car from an out-of-state dealer, which makes it more difficult to defend your rights. If you believe that you already have issues as a result of a car purchase or lease, see us right away.
Please contact us before buying or leasing a car in New Jersey. It is important that you also understand insurance protection when purchasing a policy.
2. Beware of signing a lease, or any contract renting property, without first having that lease or contract reviewed. Please note that although a rental agreement can be oral, we strongly urge that any lease or rental agreement you sign be in writing. Any lease or rental agreement in New Jersey is a binding contract, however, a written lease affords you more protections. Landlords sometimes take advantage of our students, particularly our international students, who do not understand or have familiarity with landlord/tenant law, or contract law here in New Jersey. As a tenant you have many rights, however, you also have important obligations with regards to renting property you need to be aware of.
Click here to watch a video provided by Student Legal Services regarding leases and scams.
3. We recommend that all students purchase renter’s insurance. It is inexpensive and provides important coverage for you and your property. We cannot emphasize enough how important we think it is to purchase renter’s insurance.
4. Please familiarize yourself with the motor vehicle traffic laws in NJ if you are going to get a driver’s license. If you are involved in an accident, always call the police. Do not accept money or promises from other drivers involved, that they will pay your damages if you don’t call the police. It is imperative that you do not leave the scene of an accident and always get a police report regardless of fault. If you get a traffic summons, come to our office before your court date as there may be serious consequences to your driving record if you go to court without first obtaining legal advice. There also may be other less severe options available to you that you wouldn't know without legal counsel.
We are happy to assist at the Office of Student Legal Services. Please contact us with any legal questions or problems you may have. To make an appointment, please contact: AttorneyTina Martins Cruz, or Administrative Assistant Lynn Mendez at Phone: 848-932-4529, email: email@example.com
MESSAGE FROM THE OFFICE OF STUDENT ACCOUNTING, BILLING, AND CASHIER SERVICES
International payments can be made online at paymybill.rutgers.edu, a step-by-step guide is available here. Be advised, if you are not enrolled for the semester, or do not have a balance due, your funds will be returned.
International students receiving a refund for the Fall 2020 semester are eligible to receive their funds either through Flywire,Direct Deposit or Online Term Bill Credit Transfer. Please immediately complete this form to specify what refund method option, you prefer.
Please be aware that Flywire is the only vendor authorized by Rutgers to facilitate international payments/refunds. For safety and security reasons, students should not attempt to make international payments through other third-party vendors or via direct wire transfers to the University.