Scam Alerts

A scam is an act performed by a dishonest person, group, or company that misrepresents itself, its skill, or its authority with the intent of getting money or something else of value.

ISS wants to make sure that international students are aware of scams and know how to protect themselves.  Below are just a few examples of common scams, by which students are contacted by phone, text, email, voicemail, and social media.  ISS does send regular reminders to students via ISSNews throughout the year, and whenever else needed, to keep students informed of scams and how they present.

Please report any scam to ISS so that we can help address your questions, concerns, and take steps to prevent this from happening to other international students. CWRU Public Safety may be able to offer assistance as well.

Career Placement / Recruitment / Job Scams

International students can be targets for illegitimate recruiters. These "recruiters" may ask students to provide personal information that is not normally asked in the early hiring stages and message students from email domains that are not from the actual company—but appear legitimate. Additionally, these "recruiters" may claim to connect a student with a "project" or provide an internship opportunity after the student commits to using their services and pays a large fee using a wire transfer or gift cards.

Legitimate companies use an email address linked to the company domain, not a Gmail, Yahoo, or other accounts. Legitimate employers will never ask for certain information (e.g. social security number) early in the hiring process. And they will not ask students to pay for placement services.

Students who are unsure of a company's correct domain should visit their website or contact International Student Services for assistance. For additional information about safety in the job search, visit

Consulate and Embassy Scams

It's been reported that people are receiving phone calls, texts, or voicemails about having to pick up a package/letter at the local Consulate Office or are being required to share personal, sensitive information to avoid being in trouble with the Consulate. Sometimes this is a voice recorded message while other times the caller then asks for credit card information or gives instructions about how to transfer funds to them.

Consulate and Embassy offices will NEVER call you. Consulate and Embassy officers will NEVER ask you for money. NEVER follow any of the instructions that a voice recorded message might give (like press "9" on your phone) or provide your social security number, bank or credit card numbers, or other personal information to anyone who calls for it. NEVER give this information out if it's requested by email, text message, or social media like Facebook or WeChat.

If you ever get a phone call or message like this, hang up or delete it and report it to the Fair Trade Commission for investigation.

Gift Card Scams

If you receive a request over the phone, through email, or in a text from someone asking you to purchase gift cards for them, this is a scam.  The scammer will pose as someone familiar to you or say that they know someone that you do (like a friend or family member) to gain your trust. 

You should be suspicious of any request to purchase gift cards on behalf of another individual.  Do not purchase the gift cards or give the scammer any information about yourself.

If you get a request like this, please contact the police to report the incident.

Housing and Rental Scams

ISS wants to remind you to be very careful searching for apartments online!  Keep in mind that if someone is pressuring you to send money without a signed lease, rushing you to move in before you see the apartment, or promising ridiculously low rent, that is likely a scam.  (More ways to spot a rental scam.)

ISS reminds you -- never give your bank account information, Social Security number, or other identifying information to someone you have never met in person. Use an app like PayPal which protects your information, and use the "payment to a business" option to ensure payment protection on your transaction.  If someone pressures you to give them your information, it is most likely a scam.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a crime that occurs when your personal information (your name, date of birth, social security number, etc.) is stolen and used without your permission and knowledge. To learn more about identity theft and how to protect yourself, visit the CWRU Police Crime Prevention Tips and the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

Immigration Scams

One of the most common scams students experience is an individual calling them on the phone, identifying themselves as an officer or agent, and then requesting money. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or any other government agency, will NEVER contact you by phone and will NEVER request money. Most recently scammers have started directing people to apps to request payments/money as well. If you receive such a phone call, email, or any request from a government official to use an app, NEVER provide any bank information or personal details.  This is definitely a scam.

IRS / Tax Scams

If you receive a phone call from someone saying that taxes are owed or payment is due and they threaten arrest, this is a scam. It may sound legitimate because they provide an "officer" name and badge number or offers to transfer the call to someone posing as a consular official, FBI agent, or some other official. If you receive such a call, NEVER provide any bank information or personal details. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) NEVER collects funds by phone like this nor does USCIS.

If you ever receive an email about taxes or payment due, this is also a scam. USCIS officials will never ask for payment over the phone or in an email nor will the IRS. If those offices need payment, they will mail a letter on official stationery to you.

You may wish to report your experience to the Federal Trade Commission at If you are not sure if it is a scam, forward the suspicious email to the USCIS Webmaster at USCIS will review the emails received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate.

Visit the Avoid Scams Initiative at for more information on common scams and other important tips.

For more information about tax-related identity theft visit:

More information:

Other Scams and Social Media

Today it’s possible to find almost anything that you’re looking for on the internet or through social media.   It’s extremely important that you never post or share any information, pictures, or videos that are intimate, revealing, embarrassing, incriminating, etc.

This may sound like obvious advice, but remember, once something is digital and on the internet, it’s no longer private; anyone can access it. If you wouldn’t want your family, friends, colleagues, or future employers to know or see something about you, keep it off the internet and don’t share it with others!

If you’re ever in the position of having compromising information, images, or videos posted on the internet, contact the police immediately.