Personal Safety Tip & SCAM Prevention

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There are small actions you can take every day to ensure your personal safety. The tips below highlight appropriate precautions and available resources.

Current Scam Alert

Recently, there has been an increased scam threat targeting international students.
Examples of these scams include:

  • Students receive emails from fraudulent internship programs in an attempt to gain access to their bank account information. Recently, we have seen this type of scam specifically with UNICEF and WHO internships. Hackers have used university emails to contact students. 
  • Students are being contacted by fraudulent callers using the SEVP Response Center (SRC) phone numbers (703-603-3400 and 800-892-4829). The fraudulent callers claim to be SRC representatives and are inquiring about Form I-94 documents and asking for information about money transactions. 
  • Students are approached and told to not contact family or respond to family calls until further notice or your family will be harmed. They then contact the family and falsely claim the student was kidnapped and demand ransom.
  • Students receive calls from people claiming to be the IRS.
  • Parents are called in the home country with information about the student.
  • Students receive calls from individuals claiming to be USCIS with an arrest warrant.
  • Students receive calls from individuals posing as ICE Agents indicating that the student has an active arrest warrant and asking for money to vacate the warrant.

These are only a few examples. Please be extremely vigilant when receiving a call like this, do not share any personal/family or financial information over the phone or online, and if you suspect anything, immediately contact the police (university police or the Metropolitan Police). You should also contact ISSS by phone or email or walk in to ISSS during the week 9:00 am-5:00 pm.

General Information About Scams

Scammers are persistent, authoritative, claim immediate payment or personal information. They usually say you either owe money or have committed some kind of fraud. Please contact ISSS if you feel you are facing situations similar to the ones below are aware of another member of the AU community being at risk:

  • Callers identifying themselves as law enforcement or Department of Homeland Security Officers and asking money for any number of reasons and threaten you with deportation if you fail to make payments. Do not be fooled by the caller ID even if the phone number may seem to belong to local police.
  • Mail claiming the above or providing you with a phone number to call for outstanding student fee payment.
  • Online scams or Emails promising a Green Card if you register for the Lottery.
  • Receiving PayPal, Craigslist, or EBay emails requiring payment for things other than you are sure about or extra payments for your own postings.
  • Temporary job placement firms, consultants, or agencies promising job placements to avoid the 90-day unemployment if you complete forms or reply to questions with your SS number, DOB, Bank account information, etc.
  • Job placement service for rewriting your resume with false information for jobs you otherwise do not qualify.
  • Received a check in the mail unexpectedly from someone you do not know.

If you are a Chinese student, you can see a message from the Chinese Embassy about scams targeting Chinese students here.


Support Services During Challenging Times


  • International Student & Scholar Services
  • Kay Spiritual Life Center
  • Center for Well-Being Programs and Psychological Services
  • Academic Support and Access Center
  • Dean of Students
  • Wellness Center
  • Center for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Any Member of the AU Community including Faculty, Advisers, Administrators

In the Community

Metropolitan Church on Nebraska Avenue across from the SIS building. The Reverend Janette Craswell reached out to ISSS and they are ready to help. Please call 202-363-4900.

The following tips highlight general advice for life in DC and in the United States.

  • Remain observant and aware of your surroundings and try not to use earphones.
  • Keep small electronic devices, like phones, and all other valuables concealed at all times while travelling. 
  • Avoid walking alone in dark and unfamiliar places.
  • Do not carry a large amount of cash.
  • Do not carry your original passport or other immigration documents.
  • Register your electronic device with the manufacturer.

  • Check the MPD website for crime statistics to be in the know. 

The following tips highlight general safety procedures for travelling. Some are specific to the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) area while others are general within the United States. Please review them in their entirety to gain awareness and be prepared during your travel. 

  • Have your UPass available when you enter and exit the Metro. 
  • Travel with someone else or stand around other people.
  • If you feel uncomfortable, move towards other people or seek a Metro employee for assistance.
  • Ride a rail car that is occupied by other people, or in the first Metrorail car, where the operator of the train will be located. 
  • If you must use your device, maintain an awareness of what is happening around you and hold your device with both hands to make it more difficult to snatch. When using an electronic device avoid sitting or standing near doors on rail cars or Metro buses.
  • Report unusual or suspicious activity immediately to the nearest police officer or Metro employee. 
  • Set up GPS tracking on mobile devices.

  • If your electronic device is taken, do NOT resist or chase a thief. Take note of the suspect’s description including any identifying characteristics and clothing. Report the theft immediately to the Metro Transit Police Department at 202-962-2121. If the incident happens aboard a train, get off at the next station to report it. 

  • If you own a bicycle, always use a high-quality U-lock and be sure to register the bike for free with Metro Transit Police.

If you see suspicious activity, unattended items or anything else that doesn't seem quite right, do not hesitate to call Metro Transit Police at 202-962-2121. For non-emergency reporting, you can also send a text message to MyMTPD (696873).

Safety Resources

University Police

University Police provides escorts, whether on foot or vehicle, to any member of the community who feels unsafe. Safety escorts may be arranged by calling 202-885-2527 or using an emergency telephone.

Visit their website