News and Information

Phone Scammers Targeting UMN Students

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Students have been fooled into paying hundreds or thousands of dollars after being threatened with arrest or deportation

The University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) and International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) are collecting reports from UMN students who have lost money due to phone scams. In recent months, international students and scholars have received phone calls where scammers state the student could be arrested or deported if they did not immediately pay an immigration fee, tax, fine, credit card fee, or other item.

Students who have been fooled by these scams have lost between $200 and $8,000. The scammers have even arranged for cars to pick up students and bring them to ATMs, the bank, or elsewhere to get and send money. The scammers often contact students multiple times and become increasingly threatening with each call. If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately. If you have already paid money to a scammer, contact the UMN Police Department (612-624-2677).

What You Should Know:

  • USCIS, the IRS, and other police/government agencies will NEVER call to demand an immediate payment over the phone, and they WILL NOT ask for your credit or debit card number over the phone.
  • Law enforcement agencies will NEVER call to warn that you could be arrested or fined.
  • You CANNOT trust the phone number and name shown on caller ID. Scammers can use technology to change their phone number to say the call is coming from 911, a police agency, or any phone number they believe you will trust. This is a practice known as “spoofing.”
  • If you receive a phone call where the caller makes any of these threats, HANG UP IMMEDIATELY.

All UMN students should be vigilant to protect their personal information and prevent identity theft. Approximately 17.6 million people in the United States were victims of identity theft in 2014, and young adults and college students are the most frequent victims. Never tell someone your personal information by phone, online, in email, or in person, unless you know exactly how and why they will use the information. 

What You Should Do If You Receive a Scam Call:

  • If you receive a phone call where the caller makes any of these threats, hang up immediately.
  • If you have already paid money or become a victim of these phone scams, contact the UMN Police Department (612-624-2677). International students and scholars are also asked to contact ISSS at
  • If you received a phone call but did not pay money, report the call to Federal Trade Commission at

Related Information:


"Perspectives" stories are the views and opinions of their authors and do not necessarily reflect any official position of the University of Minnesota.