The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has reported that a telephone scam is targeting international students. Please read the following information carefully, in case you are ever targeted.
Typically, a student will receive a call from someone who says they work for the Home Office and/or UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI). The caller may appear genuine, and they may have some or all of the following information on you:
- Your passport number and visa reference number
- Your home address
- Your contact details inclulding email addresses and phone numbers
- The details of your course of study
- Names of other members of your family
The caller may say that there is a problem with your immigration application or your current visa, your landing card, or something else. They may ask you to pay a fine immediately via credit/debit card, Apple or Itune vouchers or Western Union transfer. They may tell you that you could be deported if you do not pay. Sometimes, they may not immediately ask for payment, but offer you a "solicitor" to take care of the situation. Occasionally, they may even be able to contact your family back home and ask them to pay.
What you should know
The real Home Office does not contact people by phone in this way, nor do they ever ask you to pay fines or penalties. They also do not ask you to pay money over the phone, or offer you legal services. They do not contact your family back home.
If the Home Office ever does need to contact you, they will most likely do so with a letter. If you ever receive any letters from the UKVI, then please bring them to Visa Immigration Support and Advice (VISA) Team as soon as possible, and we will be able to advise you.
What you should do
If you receive such a call, the Home Office’s advice is as follows:
- Do not give the caller any personal information, and do not confirm that any information they have on you is correct. It may be alarming that they do have information on you, but try to stay calm.
- Do not pay them any money.
- Ask the caller for their name, job title and number, and say you will ring them back. But do not ring them back.
- If you do not feel comfortable doing this, just hang up the phone. If they are ever abusive to you, you should also hang up the phone.
- Report the call to Visa Immigration Support and Advice (VISA) Team, who can report the fraud to the police and Action Fraud.
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