If you got a call from ICE, you’re not alone. (And, for the record, it wasn’t them.) Scammers are pretending to be from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Like other government impersonators, they want to trick you into giving them your money or personal information.
Here’s how the scam often goes: They call or email saying you’ve violated immigration law. Or that your identity information is wrong or out of date. Or that you owe fees or need to pay an immigration bond. They’ll threaten to alert the police or to have you deported if you don’t give them the information they want. And they’ll tell you not to talk to anyone else about it — which means you can’t double-check their story.
All of this can be very unsettling. So if you come across this scam, here are some things to know:
- ICE and USCIS never call out of the blue and demand money. So if the caller wants you to pay a fee or share personal details like your date of birth or bank account numbers, hang up. It’s a scam.
- ICE and USCIS never accept payments using gift cards, cryptocurrency, or wire transfers. If someone asks you to pay this way, it’s a scam. Always.
- Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can make their phone numbers look real even if they’re not. Sometimes they’ll have you look up their number to confirm it’s what’s listed on the agency’s website — even if it matches, it could be a trick.
- Check with ICE or USCIS if you’re unsure about whether a call or email is real. Never call back phone numbers in caller ID or left in voicemails or emails. Instead, type the agency name into a search bar and click on their webpage to find contact information.