Scam calls to immigrants

When you tell us about a scam, it helps us investigate scammers. But it also helps us warn other people about the scam – so they can avoid it. Our partners at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) told us about a new twist on a common phone scam: scammers are calling immigrants in the US – but this time, the scammers are pretending to be from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
In standard scammer procedure, they fake the caller ID, so it looks like they’re legit. But they’re not. They threaten people – telling them they’re under investigation, or there’s a legal case against them. They throw around terms like “affidavit” and “allegations.” And, of course, they ask you to pay up. Scammers often tell you to pay by money transfer or prepaid or gift card.

But here’s the real story. IRCC – the Canadian agency that facilitates the arrival of immigrants to Canada, and has programs to help newcomers settle in Canada – doesn’t collect money or payments by phone, by money transfer, or by prepaid or gift cards. They don’t ask people to confirm basic personal info they already gave on an immigration application (for example, date of birth or passport number). They don’t threaten to arrest or deport people. USCIS doesn’t do any of those things, either. And the IRCC isn’t calling people in the U.S.

If you get a call – or an email – like this and you’re worried, here are some steps to take:

  • Have you gone through – or are going through – US immigration? Call USCIS’s National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283. Ask if you need to do anything about your case or your immigration status. Or you can make an InfoPass appointment to talk with someone.
  • Are you in Canada’s immigration process? Check out their Help Centre for signs of a scam. And, before you ever send money, learn how you can pay fees, depending on what you’re applying for and where you’re coming from.

No matter what, if you get a call or email asking for your money or personal information – stop. Don’t wire money. Don’t get a prepaid or gift card and share the numbers. Instead, hang up and tell the FTC.

by Jennifer Leach
Assistant Director, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
MI Asian Staff
Author: MI Asian Staff