A Division of the International Studies Office


The ISO has been hearing from some students about being targeted for phone and email scams. You should never share personal information such as your social security number, passport number, and bank account or credit card information with others by phone or email. If someone you don’t know asks you to send them money by wiring it to them or buying a gift card, it’s a scam. You can reach out directly to the company or the agency the person claims to be from to check the request’s validity. We advise looking up the contact information yourself instead of using the information they give you. You can report a scam to the local police, UVA, and/or the government agency the scammer claims to work at (more below).

Common Scams and Phishing Emails

  • A caller claiming to be law enforcement or a federal agency and demanding you give them money or personal information right away or you’ll be arrested, fined, or deported.
  • Urgent email from someone you may know, such as your supervisor, asking you to purchase a gift card for them.
  • False email from UVA asking you to change your username/password
  • More examples of phone scams and common phishing email at UVA


  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not call you to ask for any form of payment over the phone.
  • The IRS will always contact you by mail before calling you about unpaid taxes.

How to Avoid Scams

  • If the message is suspicious, it’s likely a scam.
  • Don’t share personal information or send money immediately
  • Contact the agency or company directly by looking up their numbers online to verify. DO NOT use the number the caller or sender gives you.
  • Don’t click on links immediately. Hover over it to check the URL to see if it’s legitimate.
  • Check the email sender’s address
  • Hang up on a suspicious call!
  • More tips

Reporting Scams

We hope you find these resources helpful.