To celebrate the festivities of Diwali, an Indian festival equivalent in fervor and spirit of Christmas, a group of us decided to go into town and have some fun. Conversation topics during the celebration ranged from family and friends to politics and what all expatriates in the U.S. love to discuss – immigration and the pitfalls of the current system.
During this discussion one of the people present (lets call him John) mentioned a call he got from someone who said he was a USCIS officer. This person knew John’s personal information as well as his immigration status.
The “officer” was initially polite and courteous and took additional information from John. But then, the “officer” turned the tables. He referred to a series of inaccuracies and fallacies in John’s immigration documents and records. He then indicated that these could be quickly corrected to ensure that John would not face any problems with the USCIS.
Obviously, John was eager to correct these “errors”. The so-called officer then dropped the bombshell indicating that there would be a hefty charge to have these records updated and corrected. This request set off warning bells. John questioned the officer.
The discussions quickly turned ugly. The “officer” used threats and strong language to attempt to get John to pay the fees.
John made a wise next choice. He asked the “officer” to send him a written notice. If the fee was legitimate, John said he had no problem with paying it.
John, however, was now convinced that this was a scam. After the “officer” hung up, John tried to call back the number, but it was a spoof number.
Since then I have heard numerous similar stories. Some people have even paid these scam artists.
Like all governments, the U.S. government has its fair share of positive and negative aspects. But this country excels in its commitment to be fair and impartial to any individual. People have the right in this country to be heard and clarify their positions before any action is taken. To do this, the U.S. government gives individuals written notices and gives them the opportunity to respond.
If you are ever a recipient of such a call, ask for the officer’s credentials, write down his or her contact number and insist that a written notice be sent to you on the allegations and the course of action available to you to remedy the issue. Never make payments over the phone unless you have initiated the process and there are specific provisions to make phone payments. Remember, the U.S. government never requires any particular payment method; they provide you with multiple payment options, including checks, which provide a complete trace of the transaction.
Last but not least, seek advise from a legal representative or corporate immigration team before acting upon any such request you receive.