Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Safety Tips for Scholars

International Scholars > Safety Tips for Scholars

Safety Tips

Scan and/or photocopy the identity page(s), all visa pages, and admission stamp or Form I-94 in your passport. Keep photocopies in a place separate from your passport. These copies are very helpful in replacing a lost or stolen passport.

Do not carry your passport and original immigration documents every day. Only carry your passport and immigration documents if you are going to an office, agency, or bank where you must show them to do business. Otherwise, leave them at home in a safe place.

Keep your apartment/house/dorm room locked at all times even when you are there. Lock your car, even when you are in it.

Always look through the peephole of your house or apartment door and fasten the safety chain before opening the door for a stranger.

Tell your landlord about potential security problems, such as broken locks, burnt out stairway lights, and outside doors left unlocked.

Ask service people (telephone or electric company workers, police, etc.) for proper identification when they ask to enter your apartment/house/dorm room.

Do not carry all your money or traveler's checks with you wherever you go.

Keep your wallet, backpack, and pocketbook with you at all times. Do not leave these possessions unattended, even for short periods of time.

Do not hitchhike (accept car rides from strangers).

Walk on well-lit streets at night, where other people are walking. Avoid dark alleyways. It is best to walk with other people, when possible.

Scan the area ahead, around, and behind you whenever you are walking on the street. Change direction, cross the street, or enter a busy building if you get the feeling that someone near you might be a problem.

Notice the location of blue-light emergency phones on the MIT campus.

If you are confroted by a thief, do not resist or risk your safety.

In an emergency, dial 100 from any on-campus phone (this will call the MIT Campus Police) or call 911, the emergency number for all of the United States (for fire, police, or medical emergency). If you are using your cell phone or a pay phone, you can report an emergency to the MIT Campus Police by calling 617-253-1212.

If there is a blizzard or snowstorm, call the campus snow line 617-253-SNOW (7669) or check online at to see if MIT is open.

Sign up for "MIT Alert," MIT's emergency notification program, designed to provide information and advisories through voicemail, email, and text messages for the safety and security of the MIT community. Sign up at

Use the MIT Safe Ride shuttle service when traveling to and from campus. It runs from 6pm to 2:30am Sunday-Wednesday, and from 6pm to 3:30am Thursday-Saturday. For more information and schedules, go to

When working in a laboratory late at night, lock the door. If you are working in the lab alone, very late at night, call the Campus Police at 617-253-1212, to let them know you are there.

Register your laptop and your bicycle with the MIT Campus Police. Laptop registration information: Bicycle registration information:

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Warning - Phone/Email Scams

During tax season, it is not unusual for criminals to try to commit fraud by targeting international students and scholars.

The tax authority in the US is called the Internal Revenue Service, or “IRS.” The IRS will NEVER call a taxpayer to say they owe money. If you are called by anyone claiming to be from the IRS, tell them you know they are lying and hang up immediately. Or, note the phone number of the caller and inform them you are reporting their number to the police and then hang up. Inform the International Scholars Office and/or call the Cambridge Police to report the fraudulent call.Please see more information on the IRS website regarding scams and how you can report them:

If someone claiming to be from another government agency (such as the FBI, Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or USCIS) calls or e-mails you and threatens to make you leave the US or tries to get money from you, it is criminals trying to commit fraud.

Again, tell them you know they are lying and hang up immediately, or note the phone number of the caller(s) and inform them you are reporting their number to the police and then hang up. Inform the International Scholars Office and/or call the Cambridge Police to report the fraudulent call.

Even if a caller has personal information about you, do not pay any money, give any other information about yourself, or send any documents.

More information about fraud can be found on the US Department of Homeland Security’s website “Study in the States”:

See also

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Things You Should Know

1. Certain behaviors that may be permitted in your home country may not be permitted in the United States. You may be subject to arrest if you commit any of the following offenses, or you may file legal charges against anyone who commits these acts toward you:

Verbal or physical abuse
Spousal abuse
Leaving children unattended in your home, car, or other location, even if just for a short period

2. It is unfortunate that a few scholars are mistreated in their workplace. Please note that the following actions are not permitted by MIT:

Reduction in your MIT pay without notice
Sexual harassment in the workplace
Forced domestic servitude

MIT has an Ombuds Office to assist you if you feel you are being mistreated in your workplace. The Ombuds office representatives are neutral, independent, informal complaint-handlers. All information you discuss with the Ombuds Office is completely confidential. Go to for more detailed information.

As always, the International Scholars Office is available to help you. Do not hesitate to consult us for any matter, large or small.

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Last Updated: April 2016

77 Massachusetts Ave, Room E38-219, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307 | Telephone: (617) 253-2851 | Fax: (617) 253-6624 | E-mail: