Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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International Scholars > Safety

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.

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 (do not 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 confronted 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 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

If you are working in a laboratory 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/Online Fraud

It is common in the US for people to be targeted by scams (fraud, sometimes called “phishing”). Scams may come via email, text, phone calls, or social media and it is helpful to learn the signs to identify potential scams. 

If you receive an unsolicited email, text, message, or phone call that looks or sounds suspicious it is important that you first verify the sender. If the contact is not in response to a request you made, or the sender’s information does not look legitimate, do not click on any links or respond to the email, message, text, or call.

Often scammers say they are from US governmental or local authorities and agencies, banks, the police, the Internal Revenue Service or “IRS”, the Social Security Administration, or an express shipping company such as Feds/UPS. A scammer could also say they are from USCIS, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security, FedEx / UPS, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Typically, governmental and official agencies will not call people unexpectedly, and will never call people to ask for personal information or money.

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

How do I know if something is a scam?

  • The call, email, text, or message is unsolicited or unexpected
  • There is an urgent request made for money, gift cards, credit card numbers, or personal information
  • There is a threat for noncompliance with their request – deportation, arrest, financial fines
  • The call is a recording or the message asking for money or information includes typographical errors, and misinformation

On rare occasions, US Department of Homeland Security or the FBI may contact scholars directly or visit their residential address. If you are contacted by ICE or the FBI, ask for the officer’s name and contact information and contact the International Scholars Office or the MIT Police.

What should I do if I am targeted by a scam?

  • Do not answer a call from a number that you do not recognize. If someone is trying to reach you they can leave a voicemail.
  • If you are called by someone claiming to be from one of these agencies and they ask for money or personal information, hang up.
  • If you receive an email from one of these agencies, verify the email address which sent the email and confirm that it is a legitimate email from that agency.
  • When in doubt about if something you received was a scam, visit the agency’s website or call their customer service number, found on their website, and ask if they sent the email or message. Do not click on any links in an email.
  • Never give out your Social Security Number via email or to an unrecognized source. This number should only be given to MIT Payroll and your local bank. Do not carry your Social Security card with you – keep it secured at your home.

Can I report potential fraud?

  • If you receive an email, text, or call which you believe to be a scam you can report the fraud to the local police. MIT Police can also be reached by calling 617-253-1212.
  • You can also look on agency’s websites and find information to report potential fraud or scams.

Resources about scams:



Federal Trade Commission’s list of common scams

DHS / Study in the States’ website about scams

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Things You Should Know

Certain behaviors are not acceptable or permitted in the United States. You could be arrested by the police if you commit such 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 it is just for a short period

MIT has strict policies about personal conduct and responsibility. See The Institute does not tolerate discrimination, harassment, violence or inappropriate behavior. You have a right to a workplace free of situations that undermine your well-being or interfere with your work, progress, and performance.

There are several ways to address complaints and resolution to problems.

If you want to speak with someone in an in informal, confidential place, you can discuss what to do with one of the MIT Ombuds Office representatives ( You can also make an anonymous report through the Ombuds Office. The MIT Ombuds officers are neutral, independent, informal complaint-handlers. All information you discuss with them is completely confidential.

You can also follow the Human Resources (HR) Complaint and Resolution Process. Please see the HR website for informal and formal procedures:

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: October 2020

50 Ames St, Room E18-209, Cambridge, MA 02142 | Telephone: (617) 253-2851 | Fax: (617) 253-6624 | E-mail:| Accessibility