PSA: Avoiding Immigration Phone Scams

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The Suffolk Times reported last week that a Greenport man was recently scammed over the phone. He received text messages from someone who claimed to be immigration and then received a call saying he needed to pay nearly $3,000 or he would be deported, so he sent the money via wire transfer. Police then advised him that it was a scam and he should not send any more funds.

Despite the chaos of the Trump administration, there are still proper protocols and procedures when it comes to how U.S. immigration officials will engage with immigrants. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued clear guidelines regarding such phone scams.

Remember, USCIS officials will never threaten you or ask for payment over the phone or in an email. If we need payment, we will mail a letter on official stationery requesting payment. Do not give payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official. In general, we encourage you to protect your personal information and not to provide details about your immigration application in any public area,” USCIS states on its website.

Please note that scammers can even alter their caller ID to make it seem like the call is coming from an official number. To confirm if a communication is actually from USCIS, they recommend calling their Contact Center at 800-375-5283 to verify the status of one’s case or immigration status. Further, one can use InfoPass or myUSCIS; click here for more information.

With misinformation rampant regarding official immigration procedures, immigrants and their supporters should be mindful of predators ready to exploit their fear and confusion to make a quick buck. For a list of other common immigration scams, visit the USCIS website.

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