Scams and Safety

Scams & Frauds

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

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

More Reading:

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.

Reported Scam or Fraud Scenarios

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 students 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.

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.

To Avoid Scams & Fraud

Be Private

Know Your Rights

Whom to Contact

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.)

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.

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!