A phone scam has surfaced in which callers posing as immigration authorities are phoning immigrants in the U.S. and threatening them with family separation, prison and deportation unless they pay a security deposit.

The calls may seem credible because the scammers are using software that makes the calls appear to originate from a government agency, such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, 911 emergency services, and even from the targeted individual’s family members. To create further alarm, the scammers are telling immigrants that their family members are already in custody.

Scams targeting immigrants are quite common in the U.S. and worldwide and have become increasingly sophisticated as scammers are able to mine personal details about individuals from public data and often use this information to make the call appear official.

To verify whether the call is from U.S. immigration authorities, individuals may call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283, make an InfoPass appointment here, or go to the MyUSCIS webpage.

Suspicious calls may be reported to the Federal Trade Commission’s complaint website. Suspicious emails may be forwarded to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at uscis.webmaster@uscis.dhs.gov.

BAL Analysis: Immigrants should be aware of the latest scam and not disclose personal information or submit to demands for payment over the phone or by email. U.S. immigration officials do not seek payment over the phone; all requests for payment are via mail on government letterhead.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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