Scams and Safety

Your well-being and safety are extremely important. While Berkeley is a relatively safe place, you must take precautions.

UC Berkeley Campus Police

The UC Berkeley Police Department (UCPD) is a full-service unit working 24-hours a day, 7 days a week to serve the UC Berkeley community. Stay informed of current crime activity in the campus area by reading crime alerts online.


What is a scam? A scam is a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation, often a dishonest way to make money by deceiving people. 

While there are many different types of scams and fraud incidents of which to be cautious, international students and scholars should be especially aware of the following:

Housing Scams:

These primarily appear as online advertisements on sites such as The contact person will insist that you send them money for housing accommodations even though you have not yet visited the property in person. When you show up to the address, the place is unavailable.

Phone Scams:

Callers say that they are from USCIS, IRS, or another government agency. They seem to have a lot of personal information about you and threaten to have you deported or file a complaint if you don't send money immediately. They may be able to mask their true phone number and may appear to be calling from a legitimate U.S. government agency number. Do not give them any information or follow their instructions. Contact BIO immediately.

Street Scams:

Strangers may approach you in public and pressure you into accepting unwanted goods or services in return for money. Other scams may involve trying to coerce you into providing money or assistance, or diverting your attention while taking your belongings.

Phishing Scams:

In a "phishing" email scheme, criminals pose as a trusted person or organization, such as a bank or government agency.  They will go to great lengths to make the email appear legitimate, and will often contain links to a phony website intended to bait victims into providing financial account information, passwords, and other information that can lead to identity theft. Recipients of a W-2 tax form from UC Berkeley should be aware of phishing emails containing W-2 or tax information. Read more here and here.

Part-time job scams:

The scammer will send you an email offering a part-time job that allows you to earn money while you study. There are various ways that the scammer may obtain money or information from you. Do NOT respond to these emails or click any links therein. See the example email below.

***Beginning of scam email***

From: [email redacted]
Date: Mon, Sep 24, 2018 at 9:22 A

Dear Student,

We got your email addresses from The University of California in Berkeley database and I'm happy to inform you that our reputable company, J.K manufacturing company is currently running a student empowerment program, this program is to help hardworking students to secure a part-time job which does not deter you from doing your daily activities, you only need few hours to do this weekly with an attractive weekly salary $300 per week. Kindly get back to us via this email if you are interested in this part-time job offer .

Kind regards

Mr.Bernard Scort

HR/Recruit Manager/Consultant

J.K Manufacturing Company

***End of scam email***

Employment/Internship Recruiting:

Recruitment services can help place students in internship opportunities. Before using one of these services, ask yourself if it is really something you need; you may well be qualified and capable of finding a great internship without using a recruitment service. You may wish to consult with a Career Center counselor to find out if this type of service could be beneficial for you.

If you do decide to use a recruitment service, it is best to do some research beforehand. While many of these services may be legitimate, proceed with caution, especially if they charge for their services. Here are some tips on vetting a recruiter:

  • Ask a lot of questions. Will they find you an internship, or will they simply set up informational interviews? Find out exactly what you will be getting, especially if it is a paid service.
  • Ask the recruiter to connect you with students (more than one) who have used their services in the past so that you can consult with them.
  • Carefully read through the terms of any contract you sign.
  • Maintain good communication with the recruiter. If you need information or clarification at any point, ask. A long response time could be a red flag.

To Avoid Scams & Fraud

Be Private

Never send money or give out personal information or immigration details to anyone over the phone or online.

If the caller seems to have a lot of your personal information, do NOT give out any more information (date of birth, address, SSN, etc.)

Know Your Rights

If you receive a phone call from a person that claims they are from a ‘government agency' and asks for money or threatens you with legal action, you should assume it is a scam.

Ask for a name and telephone number. If the caller refuses, take this as a warning that something is not right.

Don't be afraid to say, "No," ignore a verbal request, or walk away if you feel uncomfortable.

Whom to Contact

Contact a BIO advisor immediately if you suspect you have been a victim!

Campus Police

Student Legal Services

USCIS-Avoid [Immigration] Scams

Report Immigration Scams

Report Online Scams

To Stay Safe

  1. Don't walk alone at night! Use these free UCB Police services:
  2. Save emergency numbers in your phone:
    • Off-campus: call 911
    • UCB Police: 510-642-3333 
      (faster than 911 while on-campus)
  3. When meeting strangers in person:
    • Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe.
    • Don't invite strangers into your home.
    • Consider having a friend accompany you.
    • Don't meet in a secluded place.
    • Be especially careful when buying/selling high value items.
    • Tell a friend or family member where you're going.
    • Take your cell phone along if you have one.
    • Trust your instincts.

Protect Your Valuables!

Lock Your Bike with a U-Lock!


Keep your valuables close. Never leave backpacks, laptops, or electronic devices unattended!