Safety & Identity Protection


Boston and Cambridge are relatively safe as long as you use common sense. It is best for you to use caution when dealing with both physical safety and other safety issues such as identity theft. We encourage you to visit the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) should you have any questions regarding safety issues.

If you are ever involved in an emergency situation (such as a car accident, fire, robbery, or assault) you should contact the police in the city or town by calling 911. You can also call the HUPD at (617) 495-1212 if the situation takes place on-campus. If you need the assistance of a mental health professional to discuss problems connected with your emergency situation, call University Health Services/Mental Health or the HUPD for assistance in getting help.

Harvard Resources for Your Safety

Below are services offered by the HUPD.

  • Playing It Safe Guidebook
  • Harvard Shuttle Bus and the Medical Area Shuttle
  • Evening Van Service One can arrange transportation between University locations and the nearest Shuttle Bus stop between 7 pm and 2:45 am. This service should be used only if one has no other safe alternative because there is only one car to serve the entire University community. It may be necessary to wait for the van to arrive, since service is provided in order of calls received, and advance appointments cannot be made. This service is not designed to provide individuals with transportation on a regular basis; any person who requires regular assistance should seek alternative arrangements.
  • Harvard University Campus Escort Program provides walking escorts for students, faculty and staff seven nights a week during the academic year and covers the Yard, River, and Quad areas.

Identity Protection

Please protect your personal information by not responding to unsolicited phone calls and emails. We have heard of a number of scams (a dishonest way of soliciting money by deceiving people) targeting non-immigrants lately, including calls from individuals claiming to be immigration and tax officials requesting personal information such as social security numbers and credit card information. Government officials do not call or email requesting such personal information. 

If you receive a call from anyone claiming to be a governmental entity, please ask for their contact information and callback number and contact your HIO Advisor immediately. Individuals receiving phone calls from these numbers should not provide any personal information. You can find more information on the HUPD website.

Avoiding Scams and Fraud Schemes
Individuals sometimes fall prey to scams and fraud schemes. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provides a very useful web resource that reviews some of the most common scams and how to avoid them. Please note that U.S. government agencies, and most private entities, will never request sensitive personal information such as a Social Security Number.

Identity Theft
Protecting your identity from theft is extremely important. Below are some resources of tips and prevention of identity theft.

Lost Passport
If you lose your passport please go here to find information on passport replacement and refer to our info page about lost/stolen passports.

Legal Assistance

Many communities have free or low cost legal “clinics” that can assist with non-criminal disputes, such as tenant landlord disputes and other similar issues. Below are two such organizations.