Safety and Security

Safety is a common concern for international visitors. U.S. movies shown around the world display an unrealistic amount of violence. Because of these and other media depictions of life in general in the U.S., many international visitors have unecessary heightened concerns about safety. It is, however, necessary to be careful about safety anywhere.

Basic keys to safety in unfamiliar places are knowledge and prevention. With sufficient knowledge about how to protect yourself and your property, and how to avoid taking unnecessary risks, it is possible to better prevent being a victim of crime. Common sense safety behaviors include these precautions.

In the event of an emergency (medical, crime, or fire)

Call 911 You can dial 911 from any phone. 911 is the nationwide emergency number. Be ready to report details, beginning with the nature of the emergency and the exact location (address)

Avoid Tax Scams

Be aware of phone scams where callers claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and threaten to have a person arrested or deported for owing taxes.

Don’t be tricked. Even if you do owe taxes, the IRS will never:

  • Call and demand immediate payment over the phone;
  • Demand payment with a prepaid debit card, or ask for your credit card or debit card number over the phone; or
  • Threaten to call the police or immigration authorities. 

If you get a call like this, report it online to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or call 800-366-4484. Also, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

To learn more about tax scams, watch this video and read this IRS Tax Tip Sheet. If you think you owe taxes, you can call the IRS at 800-829-1040 and they may help you arrange a payment plan. 

Visit uscis.gov/avoidscams for more information on common scams targeting immigrants.

Avoid Employment Scams

Beware fradulent job/internship postings!

Job seekers are often targets for scammers to attempt to threaten or scare potential victims into providing them with cash or personal, protected information, which is then used to withdraw money from bank accounts or for other illegal activity. 

When searching for jobs or internships use the following tips to avoid scams:

Never give out your personal or banking information to potential employers.

  • Recruiters and hiring contacts should not ask for money (checks, cash, wire transfers, etc.) when considering you for a job/internship opportunity. Nor should they ask for personal information such as login information and passwords, your mailing address, and/or social security number.

Watch for signs of unprofessionalism. Be cautious of:

  • A recruiter/hiring contact using a free email service such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, rather than their company/business email address
  • A recruiter/hiring contact that avoids answering questions about their company’s mission, product, or service
  • Correspondence from a recruiter/hiring manager that is unprofessionally written – use of slang, misspelled words, poor grammar, and/or use of all capital letters

Do your research!

  • Do an internet search of the company/business website and/or LinkedIn profile, is it professional and up-to-date?
  • Also look for the name of the recruiter/hiring contact on LinkedIn to confirm they are associated with the company they are hiring for (especially if they are not using a company/business email address)

Remember, if a job or internship is too good to be true, it probably is!

If you become aware of a scam or fraudulent job/internship posting, or if you believe you have been a victim of an employment scam, notify the Career Services Center and the International Students & Programs Office immediately!

For more information about scams please review the following resources:

Avoid Immigration Scams

Immigrants all over the country are being targeted in scams. Don’t be one of the victims! 

Many people offer help with immigration services. Unfortunately, not all are authorized to do so, and the wrong help can hurt. Sometimes people are just trying to get personal information from you. Scammers may call or email you, pretending to be a government official. They will say that there is a problem with an application or additional information is required to continue the immigration process. They will then ask for personal and sensitive details, and demand payment to fix any problems. This is against the law and may be considered an immigration services scam. USCIS/USDHS or other US government agencies DO NOT call international visitors asking for money or request to meet at locations other than the agency itself. If they need payment, they will mail a letter on official stationery requesting payment.

Please be aware of this scam targeting international students and scholars and report any incidents immediately. Remember reporting scams will not affect your immigration status or pending applications. Also, many US states allow you to report scams anonymously. See examples of common scams and additional resources.

Reporting Immigration Scams:

  1. Report the incident to the UC San Diego Police Department by calling 858-534-4357
  2. Report the incident to US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) by completing the online form at the USCIS Avoid Scams website: www.uscis.gov
  3. If you receive a scam email or phone call, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/Information#crnt&panel1-1
  4. If you are not sure if it is a scam, forward the suspicious email to the USCIS Webmaster at uscis.webmaster@uscis.dhs.gov. USCIS will review the emails received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate

If you have a question about your immigration record, call customer service at 800-375-5283 or make an InfoPass appointment at https://my.uscis.gov/appointment .

Visit the Avoid Scams Initiative at www.uscis.gov/avoid-scams for more information on common scams and other important tips.

Protecting Your Personal Identity: Here are 5 helpful tips for protecting your personal identity:

  • Be wary of giving your personal information to a person, agency, or company that contacts you (as opposed to one you contact). Never give your Social Security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, credit card number, bank PIN codes or passwords. Ask the person to give you a number you can call to verify his/her identity and ask the person to send you any information they would like you to consider in writing.
  • Do not give your personal information to anyone, unless you know who you are giving it to and why they need the information.
  • Keep your important papers secure, shred documents with sensitive information before you put them in the trash, and limit the personal information you carry with you in your wallet, purse, or bag.
  • Pick up your mail daily to minimize the risk of it being stolen. Place outgoing mail in a US Postal Service mail receptacle rather than your own mailbox.
  • Maintain appropriate security on your computers and other electronic devices. Never give out personal information unless you are using a secure website. You may determine if a website is secure by looking at the beginning of the web address in your browser's address bar. It should read "https://" instead of "http://". You may also look to the bottom right of your screen for a padlock symbol.

Crime Prevention

  • Never carry large sums of money. Never tempt a thief by displaying money in public. All large amounts of money brought from your home country should be deposited in a bank shortly after arriving in the USA.
  • Never leave valuable things visible in a car. Items like luggage, cameras, radios, tape players, and so on, are tempting to criminals and easy to steal. If needed, hide valuables in the trunk of the car.
  • There are pickpockets in any large city in the world. Pickpockets are skilled at identifying vulnerable people who may be displaying valuables, and then coming close enough to steal the valuables without being noticed. Handbags should be kept closed; wallets should be protected. Bags or backpacks left unattended may be stolen.
  • Report any incidents of robbery or harassment on campus to the Campus Police by using the blue courtesy phones located around campus. Call 911 for EMERGENCIES whether on-campus or off- campus.
  • Some areas of San Diego are safer than others. Check with friends about the areas to avoid. There is a difference in Day Safety and Night Safety: some places are safe during daylight, but less safe at night.
  • There is safety in numbers in the city, especially at night. Going out with friends is safer than going out alone. When someone knocks on the door, make sure you know who it is before opening the door. Keep curtains closed at night and when no one is home, so people cannot look inside.
  • Always lock the door and windows of the house/apartment/room and car, even if leaving for only a minute.
  • Have keys ready upon entering your house or apartment.
  • Be cautious about giving out a personal address or telephone number to unfamiliar people.
  • Always remember to dial 911 for fire, police, or ambulance services. Keep this number near the phone.
  • If meeting some one for the first time or from the internet:
    • Meet in a public place and do not return to anyone’s home.
    • Tell a friend your plans and that you will let them know you are safe when the meeting is finished. If possible, bring a friend with you to meet someone for the first time.
    • Plan ahead so that you have your own transportation. Do not accept rides home.
    • If someone is pressuring you into doing something you don’t want to do, you have the right to say no and leave.
    • If the person you are meeting with tries to give you alcohol or drugs, do not accept.
    • Do not give identifying information in your online profile or during the first few meetings, specifically: full name, address, birthdate.
    • Always report suspicious behavior to the authorities (e.g. site administrators, police).
  • Regardless of your visa status, you always have the right to report any crimes.

Campus safety escort service

The UCSD Campus Police provides escort service (someone to accompany you) to and from campus locations every night.

Safety escort service is offered 365 days a year from sunset to 1 a.m.

Call (858) 534-9255 or (858) 534-WALK.

Earthquake preparedness

California is vulnerable to earthquakes. Here are a few points to remember during an earthquake:

  • If there is an earthquake, get under something, such as a desk or table. Your back should be to the window.
  • Protect your face, and try to make your body as small as possible.
  • If you are outside, try to move to an open area away from trees, power lines, or objects, which could fall.
  • If you are in an automobile, stop in an open area if possible.
  • If you are home, check utility lines and appliances for damage that could cause a fire. Do not touch electrical wires.
  • Turn on your radio for information.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks. Although most of these are smaller than the main shock, some may be large enough to cause additional damage or injuries.


Survival is not luck. Most people can survive an earthquake and minimize its damage simply by becoming aware of potential hazards and taking some basic earthquake preparedness measures. Prepare an earthquake kit with food and water, flashlight, radio, extra batteries, and a first aid kit.

Since earthquakes strike without warning, it’s important to act now! The longer one waits, the greater the risk. Experts know that damaging earthquakes are coming but they don’t know when. Knowing that you know what to do (and what not to do) before, during, and after a quake, however strong, will assist in keeping you safe.

For more information, visit:  http://blink.ucsd.edu/safety/emergencies/preparedness/disasters/earthquakes.html

UC San Diego smoke-free campus

As of January 1, 2014, UC joined more than 1,500 colleges and universities nationwide by implementing a systemwide smoke & tobacco-free policy.

This policy has been adopted by all UC campuses (including UC San Diego), labs and medical centers to improve the health and safety of all students, staff, faculty, patients and visitors. The policy prohibits the use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, snuff, snus, water pipes, pipes, hookahs, chew, unregulated electronic nicotine delivery system, and any other non-combustible tobacco product.

Smoke-free means that smoking, the use of smokeless tobacco products, and the use of unregulated nicotine products (e.g., "e-cigarettes") will be strictly prohibited in indoor and outdoor spaces, including parking lots, private residential space, and the Medical Center campuses.

UC San Diego emergency notifications

Registration for emergency notifications is voluntary and open to international scholars.

Register online for UCSD emergency notifications (you will receive phone or text messages to numbers you specify).