Studying abroad is supposed to be one of the best experiences of your life. You’re studying in a new place with new people and thrown into a whole new type of culture. It should feel exhilarating, but for some international students studying in the UK, it has opened them up to an alarming scam.
One of the most important parts about studying abroad is making sure you get everything right with immigration. You wouldn’t want to make it half-way through your semester and then have to leave because you forgot to fill out one paper or checkmark one box. Sadly, scammers are using these intricate processes against students.
According to the UK Council for International Student Affairs, international students are being targeted by scammers. They’re using spoofing technology to make the numbers appear similar to the Home Office number. The similarity tricks students into answering the phone, where they are told by a very convincing poser that they owe money for immigration abuse issues. The scammers threaten the police or Home Office will detain them and deport them if they don’t pay. Students who are 1000’s of miles from home and unfamiliar with immigration laws are the perfect target for these scams, because panic can lead people to rash decisions.
If you’re studying abroad, or have a child who is overseas, take a pause before you act. Look for holes in their stories and ask lots of questions to get them off track. Often, these callers have a strict script they stick to and are terrible at improvisation, so confusing them could be the best way to unravel their whole story. Never pay any money or give any personal information to a caller you think is suspicious – hang up, research the REAL number of the agency that was claiming to call, and call them back to confirm before you make any decisions. If you believe you have been targeted, immediately notify the UK Action Fraud.
Like with any scam, never pay any money or give away your banking information. If you believe you have been targeted, immediately notify the UK Action Fraud. If you’re living in the UK and want to protect yourself from fraudulent calls, try the TPS Protect app. It rates calls on a 1-5 scale Trust Score, so you can have confidence in answering your phone.