Safety and Scams

Tips for Personal Safety

Urban environments like San Francisco always have some safety issues that residents should be aware of.  International students and visitors can be targets of crimes because they are less familiar with the area and what suspicious activity looks like. In San Francisco and the Bay Area, the most common incidents result in the loss of property but not physical harm. The most common incidents are crimes of opportunity such as robbery and car break-ins. These incidents are random and, with some knowledge and awareness, can often be avoided. 

The Public Safety office has a website with information on crime prevention and tips for staying safe. Public Safety suggests keeping phones and valuables out of sight, and avoiding wearing headphones when walking around. Being aware and vigilant allows you to pick up on subtle signals that warn you to be cautious and be able to react quickly. Stay safe and trust your instincts!

Tips for Recognizing Fraud and Scams

ISSS has had reports of numerous scams from our international student population. A scam is when a person or persons try to get you to give money under false pretenses (a lie). It can also be called fraud. These scams can come in different forms and we want all of our students to be aware so you can recognize it and prevent yourself from becoming a victim. 

The most common scams include someone claiming to be from:

  • A U.S. law enforcement agency (police, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, etc)
  • The IRS (U.S. tax department)
  • A company offering the student a job
  • A person offering an apartment or housing
  • Someone on social media who you do not know (including WeChat, Facebook, Linked-in, etc)

Here are some tips to help you recognize a scam: 

  • Always be suspicious of someone contacting you demanding money or cash withdrawals. 
  • If someone calls you to offer you something that seems too good to be true, it probably is. This includes housing that is less expensive than other apartments or houses listed.
  • The U.S. government will never call you to demand immediate payment. You always have the opportunity to speak with ISSS or an immigration attorney before paying a fee.
  • The U.S. government (local, state, or federal) will never ask for payment of any fees via gift card or cash.
  • The Department of Homeland Security will communicate any concerns with students either with a written letter or through the ISSS office at USF.
  • The police do not have the authority to deport anyone. Deportation is a lengthy legal process that involves the U.S. justice system and a ruling by an immigration judge.
  • You should always see an apartment or house in person and sign a written agreement (called a lease) before paying any money. 
  • Employers should never ask you to pay money or use your own money as part of the interview or hiring process.

If you ever have any questions or concerns about communication you receive, get the caller’s name and contact, and call ISSS immediately. We can assist students in identifying potential scams and responding to any legitimate communication from a U.S. government official. 

Tips for Emergency Response

The safety of all students attending the University of San Francisco is a top priority. During an emergency, it is necessary for students to have a basic understanding of their personal responsibilities and the University’s emergency response procedures. Make sure the International Student and Scholar Services office has your emergency contact information. Also update your contact information in the MyUSF so you can receive messages from USF Emergency Response system.

In the event of an emergency, please follow the below guidelines:

  • Be aware of emergency exits.
  • Keep calm and do not run or panic.
  • Evacuation is not always the safest course of action. If directed to evacuate, take your belongings that you can carry easily and proceed safely to the nearest evacuation route. 
  • Find a safe place to wait. Faculty and staff will need to be able to account for your whereabouts.

For more information visit USF Public Safety’s Disaster Preparedness webpage.