Global Engagement > Student Resources > International Student & Scholar Services > Safety, Scams & Your Rights

Safety, Scams & Your Rights

International Student and Schol​ar Services is committed to your personal safety. The resources on this page will provide you with tips on how to be safe in Chicago and on campus, help you to avoid common scams targeting international students and give you an outline of your rights when interacting with local or federal authorities. If you would like to discuss any of these topics further we encourage you to speak with your ISS advisor.  

Safety in Chicago

As in any large city, living in Chicago requires awareness of your surroundings and taking common sense actions to protect your personal safety and property.  Be alert, show confidence and trust your instincts when traveling throughout the city. In an emergency dial 9-1-1 for Police, Fire and Rescue Services. Dial 3-1-1 to reach the Chicago Police Department for non-emergency situations

DePaul Public Safety

DePaul is committed to making campus safety a top priority through a variety of programs. Visit the Public Safety website for information about DePaul's safety initiatives, emergency preparedness resources and for safety tips. For assistance or to report any suspicious activity on campus contact Public Safety at Lincoln Park: (773) 325-7777 or Loop: (312) 362-8400. 

What is a Scam? 

A scam is a dishonest or fraudulent scheme designed with the intention of obtaining personal information or money from a victim.  In recent years there has been an increse in scams targeting international students. Scams are often conducted by phone, email  or social media by individuals claiming to represent law enforcement or government officials. Scammers often use threats and indimidation to scare a victim into revealing financial information or making payments to avoid future action including arrest or deportation. It is important to note that legitimate law enforcement or government officials do not use such tactics and would not demand immediate payment to resolve an issue. We do not want you to become the victim of a scam. It is important to recognize familar tactics used by the perpetrators of scams to protect yourself. If you suspect that you have been contacted by a scammer do not respond to their demands. For more information about common scams targeting students, please review this guide and if you need help or want to discuss any of these topics further we encourage you to speak with your ISS advisor.  

Telephone Scams

Telephone scammers try to steal money or personal information from you.  Scams may be calls from live callers, robocalls or text messages. Scams targeting international students have included threatening legal or immigration action unless the caller is paid a sum of money immediately. One tactic is to instruct the victim to purchase gift cards (such as iTunes gift cards) and to reveal the gift card numbers over the phone. NO government agency, IRS or reputable business will EVER ask for payment with gift cards.  If you receive a telephone call from someone telling you to purchase gift cards, hang up.  Review the following webpage to learn how to protect yourself from telephone scams. 

Online & Social Media Scams

Scammers target international students on social media such as Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter. The scammer may claim to be a goverment or school official and request payment online. Legitimate government officials will not ask you for payment on social media. Please protect yourself online. Do not post your personal information such as telephone number or address on social media. 

Immigration Scams

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reports an increase in immigration scams targeting international students.  Students may be contacted by scammers claiming to be U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) representatives. These scammers may demand passport numbers or credit card information. USCIS would not ask for any form of payment over the phone. Please read this message from DHS to protect yourself from immigration scams. 

Financial & Tax Scams

Do not fall victim to scammers who call and say they are with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). There has been an increase in aggressive phone scams where people call and threaten you with police arrest or deportation if you don't pay them. For more information on tax scams, watch this video and read this IRS Tax Tip. Please also visit the Avoid Tax Schemes section of the ISS website. 

U.S. Constitutional Rights

F-1 and J-1 non-immigrant visa holders have certain constitutional rights in the United States when confronted by local or federal authorities. The American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Civil Liberties Union offer resources in a variety of languages that address what rights you have if you are stopped, questioned or arrested by local, state or federal law enforcement officers. These resources are designed for both citizens and non-citizens. These resources are not intended as legal advice, but for informational purposes only. If you have a concern about an interaction with local or federal authorities, please contact your ISS advisor

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA): Know Your Rights