Tips to Avoid Scams and Fraud
We want to remind you of ways to protect yourself against scams. In the past, students and others in the NYU community have received phone calls from people claiming to work for some office within the US government. Or they have been contacted by people claiming to work for law enforcement in their home country or for some office within their home country’s government. Others have received calls claiming to be from shipping companies that have found drugs, false immigration documents, or other illegal items in a shipment sent under the student’s name. Almost all of these calls also involve forceful and persuasive requests for students to provide personal financial information, including credit or debit card numbers; or for students to purchase Apple gift cards, send bitcoin funds, or in some other way make payment or take action immediately.
STOP if you are being asked or feeling pressured to give information or send payment. Check the legitimacy of the request before taking action.
COLLECT CALLER INFO Ask for the person's name, agency, contact info, and details about the request. Then say you need to follow up with your institution first and hang up.
ALERT AUTHORITY Contact OGS or NYU Campus Safety to help you determine if this is a real request.
MAKE REPORT OGS and Campus Safety can help you determine the best way to report a scam. Reports may be made to the police, government agencies, IT office, etc.
Common Organizations Scammers Claim to Be/Represent
- a US Immigration official,
- the US tax authority (the IRS) saying you owe money,
- Company recruiter who can find a job for you if you pay them money,
- Law enforcement or government official in your home country,
- Shipping company (DHL, Fedex, UPS, etc.) calling about drugs, fake documents or other illegal items you shipped;
- Bank stating that you have committed a crime or fraud
What Organizations Won’t Do (If They Do, It’s Likely a Scam)
- Ask for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information (such as Apple gift cards) over the telephone.
- Request immediate payment over the telephone, or else they will take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. You would usually receive prior notification from US government offices before any phone call is made to you.
- Ask you to send money immediately or to take immediate or secret actions to ensure your family’s safety;
- Contact you by phone about illegal shipments or fraudulent activities,
Typical Characteristics of a Scam
- The person on the phone doesn't say who they are, or if they do, it’s a fake organization/department
- They say false information such as “There is a problem with your taxes or immigration status” – they don’t provide specifics
- They want you to act quickly
- They usually demand money - often thousands of dollars.
- They might ask you to send scans or images of your passport or other documents
- They might want you to meet with them at a certain place
- They may threaten you or your family
- They might tell you to stay on the line and not hang up
- The caller may know your school, phone number, and address
If You Receive a Call with Scam Characteristics, Note Down
- What day and time did they call?
- Who did they say they were?
- What exactly did they say? What did they want you to do?
- Did a transaction occur in person (cash) or electronically (transfer/credit card)?
Please contact us if you get a call like this. To prevent yourself from falling victim to a scam, review information from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services on common immigrant scams. For safety tips in and around New York, stay up to date from NYU Campus Safety.
Ways to Avoid Being Scammed
- Do not answer phone calls from phone numbers you do not know. If it is important, they will leave a message. If the message is strange and/or threatening or says you owe money, do NOT call back. Report it and investigate it.
- If you accidentally do answer, hang up
- Do not give money or promise to give money
- Do not meet up with the person
- Do not tell them any personal or financial information
- If you feel unsafe, call Campus Safety. The phone number is on the back of your NYU ID card: 212-998-2222
- Monitor/Change information–bank account, credit card, online accounts, passwords, etc. depending on the nature of the call
- You can file a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, USCIS, or US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- If you receive anything by mail, bring it to OGS and meet with an advisor
- If you are upset, anxious or need to talk to someone, call the NYU Wellness Exchange. The phone number is on the back of your NYU ID card: 212-443-9999.
- Please also notify the consulate or embassy of your home country. Scams often target nationals of a specific country, and your home government may be interested and able to assist you, as well.
Added Information on Employment Scams
While you are working hard to land your dream job or internship, also be aware that if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Con artists and scammers post fraudulent jobs and offer services that can be difficult to spot. If you receive a suspicious email or call from an employer, or have suspicious contact with an employer during an interview or in-person interaction, it is extremely important to exercise caution. Additionally, fraudulent employers and organizations often contact students outside of the career center platforms through email, student clubs, and social media channels.
If you feel uncomfortable about a job opportunity or offered service, do not click on any links and do not provide any personal information.
Additionally, while there are many reputable third party recruitment and staffing agencies, use discretion engaging with individuals and organizations who charge extensive fees for career coaching and resume writing support (provided to NYU students at no cost at the Wasserman Center). Additionally, be extremely cautious engaging with services which offer guaranteed internship or job placement.
Review the list of common ‘red flags’ that may indicate a fraudulent employer or service below:
- Offers to pay a large amount of money for very little work, offers to send you a check before you have begun any work, or offers you a job without ever interacting with you
- Requires you to pay a large amount of money for a ‘guaranteed’ job or internship placement
- Requests personal information from you such as Social Security Number, bank account numbers, credit card information, copies of your passport or license and/or other personal documents
- Requests you to transfer or wire money from one account to another
- Offers you a large payment in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account — often for depositing checks or transferring money, or sends you an unexpectedly large check
- Requests payment by wire service or courier or gift card
- A contact's email address which doesn’t match the company's website domain (i.e. JohnSmith@gmail.com rather than JohnSmith@companyname.com)
If you are suspicious of an email or interaction, end all communication with the employer and contact the Wasserman Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.998.4737. Additionally, please contact NYU Campus Safety to file a report at 212.998.2222, by texting via the Safe NYU app, or by visiting 561 LaGuardia Place.
If the incident occurred completely over the internet, you can file an incident report with the US Department of Justice or by calling the FTC at: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
Once you are hired, if you have any concerns about the legitimacy of the company or believe the work environment to be unsafe, contact the US Department of Labor.
- Federal Trade Commission Information on Phone Scams
- Federal Communications Commission Information on Chinese Americans Targeted in Consulate Phone Scam
- Common Immigrant Scams
- File a Complaint Regarding a Scam
- Internal Revenue Service on Tax Scams / Consumer Alerts
- US Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Beware of ICE Imposters
- ICE Tip Form to report scams targeting international students
- Tips to Avoid Scams (Resource from the US Department of Homeland Security)