Carnegie Mellon University
November 25, 2020

OIE Guidance: Protect Yourself From Scams this Holiday Season

In the last couple weeks, we have seen an increase in the number of scam calls being reported to OIE, which impact our community. While we encourage students and scholars to continuously guard against these threats, the holiday season does typically result in an increase in these scam calls. This is an important time to both review and share the following tips with your friends and family:

Tips to Protect Yourself from Scams:

  • If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from a government office (either the U.S. government or your own country’s government) who asks you for gift cards, wire transfers, checks, or cash—hang up and report the call to University Police or your local police office if you are not in Pittsburgh. The calls may seem legitimate as scammers can “spoof” telephone numbers. Remember, real U.S. government officials—immigration, tax, police—will NEVER call you and ask you to provide them with gift cards or ask you to wire transfer funds.
  • Do not provide personal information (Social Security, bank or credit card information, etc.) to anyone you do not know, on the phone or online, particularly if they have contacted you.
  • Scams can take many different forms, including SSN scams, pyramid schemes, or like this recent scam targeting Amazon Prime customers. Do not conduct business over the phone with callers you do not know. iPhone or Android users can even silence unknown callers. Remember, students should discuss employment authorization with their OIE advisor for any employment opportunity that involves an employer other than Carnegie Mellon University.
  • Educate yourself further by reviewing the following resources: Avoiding Scams Information for Recent Refugees and Immigrants from the Federal Trade Commission and USCIS Common Scams
  • If you are ever in doubt as to whether or not something is a scam, do not hesitate to contact University Police at 412-268-2323.

We ask that you please help us in distributing this important information. We do not want to see another member of our international community impacted by these scams.

Best wishes for a safe holiday season,
OIE Staff