Watch Out for Fake USCIS Phone Calls Asking for Your Personal Information!

phoneThe American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has received reports of a new phone scam, in which callers pose as officers of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  (For attorneys: This comes from AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 12071935 (posted Apr. 8, 2013).)

The callers have apparently done a bit of research beforehand, so that they know the person’s name and address, and that the person is a noncitizen of the United States. (This type of information wouldn’t be hard to find by stealing someone’s mail or Googling them, for instance.)

The caller then claims that USCIS has found discrepancies (inconsistent information) in the person’s immigration files. and asks for personal immigration data such as an I-94 number, “A” number, or visa control number. This is not data you should share with anyone, as it can be used to get more of your personal information from USCIS or potentially to create false immigration documents in your name.

But it gets worse. The caller next tells the noncitizen that USCIS charges a penalty for such discrepancies. The fake officer instructs the person to send an amount of money, via Western Union, to a certain address (not, of course, an authorized USCIS address).

If you receive any call from anyone stating that he or she is from USCIS, be wary. The agency rarely calls anyone — it tends to rely more on written communications. This is especially true if you are represented by any attorney, in which case USCIS would normally direct all such inquiries to the attorney rather than to you. Be sure to ask for the caller’s name, department, and a phone number at which you can call back. If you don’t have an attorney, call the main USCIS information line (1-800-375-5283) to check whether you were contacted by an actual USCIS officer.

If you did receive a suspicious call, talk to your attorney if you have one. Also report it to law enforcement authorities, in particular the FBI, and to the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.