While some tried-and-true scams continue to haunt us (think Craigslist and mystery shopper scams), criminals continue to think of new, clever ways to commit fraud. New trends we’re seeing right now: attacks on domestic and international students, and new immigrants to the United States.Student in library

The “Education Tax” scam occurs when a criminal calls a college student, claims to be from the IRS or FBI, and demands immediate payment of a fake “education tax.” The caller threatens to send the police to arrest the student if the tax is not paid. Often, the scammers request payment via a major retail chain store’s gift card. Once the gift card is purchased, the scammer requests the account number on the card, immediately uses the prepaid gift card, and withdrawn funds are unrecoverable. How to protect yourself:

  1. Understand that the IRS or FBI will never call someone directly and demand payment for taxes. All official IRS and FBI tax communications are sent via U.S. mail. The IRS will also never threaten to immediately send police to arrest an individual for not paying taxes.
  2. If you receive this type of call, hang up. Do not provide any information.
  3. Contact the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484 and report the attempt.

Financial scam tip

The “Immigration Process” scam occurs when a criminal calls an international student or new immigrant on the phone, speaks to them in their native language and informs the victim that their immigration process is not complete. To complete the process, the individual must transfer money (often thousands of dollars) to the caller. Sometimes, the caller will threaten the individual’s family if the victim hesitates to agree to the terms. How to protect yourself :

  1. Understand that the IRS or FBI will never call someone directly and demand payment. All official IRS and FBI communications are sent via U.S. mail. The IRS will also never bully one’s family or threaten to immediately send police to arrest an individual.
  2. If you receive this type of call, hang up. Do not provide any information.
  3. Contact the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484 and report the attempt.

Our legal system is difficult for even the most seasoned of legal professionals to navigate. When you compound this with being new to a country, perhaps not speaking English as a first language, and not having the support of a trusted financial network, it’s easy to see how people could fall victim to the scams above. Click here to read the Consumer Trade Commission’s “Top Frauds of 2017” list.