Be aware of a scam impacting those affiliated with the university
Friday, April 21, 2023

The University of Iowa Police Department wants community members to be aware of a phone scam that is currently impacting parents and guardians of University of Iowa students. UI Police have received reports from parents and families of students who stated a caller contacted them claiming to be a member of the UI Police Department. The impersonator often:

  • Identifies themselves as a University of Iowa Police Officer, or an Iowa State University Police Officer.
  • Claims “their student” has gotten into an altercation at a local business, has been arrested, or is in trouble.
  • May ask the recipient of the call to provide money to cover damages.

This scam sometimes spoofs the legitimate non-emergency phone number of the UI Police Department or the Iowa State University Police Department and impersonates a law enforcement officer in an attempt to gain the trust of the victim.

It is important to remember that law enforcement would not contact the parents of an adult student if they were arrested and would not ask you to send money or provide financial information under any circumstances.

If you or someone you know receives such a call, disconnect immediately without providing any personal or financial information and report it to police (319-335-5022).

Safety Tips

Recognizing the common signs of a scam can help you avoid one. Scammers typically pretend to be from an organization you know, say there's a problem or a prize, and pressure you to act immediately. They also tend to ask you to pay in a specific way.

  • Never give personal or financial information to an unsolicited call or email request that you didn't expect.
  • Block unwanted calls and text messages.
  • Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason.
  • Resist the pressure to act immediately.
  • Stop and talk to someone you trust before taking any action.
  • Know how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you use cryptocurrency, a wire transfer service, or a gift card. Never deposit a check and send money back to someone.
  • If you think you're the target of a scam, hang up without providing any information or money and report the call to your local police department.
  • Be thoughtful about what information you post online and keep your privacy settings up to date on social media sites. Scammers often pull personal information about their targets from the internet to gain trust or seem legitimate.

The Iowa Department of Justice has additional information and resources available to protect consumers from scams, as does the FTC Scam Alert website.