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How to protect yourself from scams

Stay alert, stay safe

Scams can affect anybody at any time, in person or online. Learn how to identify different types of scams and how to protect yourself, so you can safeguard yourself and others from harm.

In 2022, there were over 200,000 reports of scams made to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC). So far in 2023, there have already been over 27,000 reports made. 

Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels in Australia, and there's no one group of people who are more likely to become a victim of a scam – all of us may be vulnerable to a scam at some time. Therefore, it's important you're confident with identifying scams and know how to protect yourself from them so you can safeguard yourself and others from harm.

If you have lost money, had your personal details compromised or suspect you have been scammed in any way, the University is here to support you. Connect with the Student Wellbeing team for free and confidential health, wellbeing and personal support. 

If you're an international student, you can access support through Sonder – a mobile app which gives you on-demand access to wellbeing and safety professionals and resources.

Types of scams

Scammers are getting increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to get your money and personal details, as well as lure you into dangerous situations and environments.

Here's an overview of the most common scams in Australia and how to identify and protect yourself from them.

Current scam alert

International students are currently being targeted by a scam email that is requesting large sums of money be deposited into a domestic bank account as part of an Australian Government personal asset certificate for international students. This is a scam known as email phishing. If you receive this email, do not open it or clink on any links in the email. You can report a scam to the National Anti-Scam Centre through the ACCC.

Virtual kidnapping 

Scammers, often targeting Chinese students specifically, may pose as government officials or police officers and threaten you with deportation or visa cancellation. They will make you transfer them money and may even force you to kidnap yourself to facilitate a ransom from your family. 

  • Being contacted (via phone or email) by someone claiming to be a government official, or military or police officer, who has supposedly detected you having done something illegal.
  • Email addresses or phone numbers may seem authentic and valid, including using government addresses and details.
  • The scammer might tell you the only way to protect yourself is to immediately transfer them large amounts money or cryptocurrency.
  • Eventually, you could be asked to fake your own kidnapping by sending pictures of yourself bound and blindfolded to family members, who will be asked for a ransom. Some scammers will even ask you to leave the country – which may result in an actual kidnapping.
  • Stay calm. These scammers want you to be scared so that you make quick and brash decisions.
  • Hang up the phone or ignore emails if you suspect you’re being scammed.
  • Contact the police, especially if you have been asked to kidnap yourself, to leave the country, or if you are in immediate danger.
  • Do not send financial details or money to people who claim to be government agents without verifying their identity through official channels such as your country’s embassy or consulate-general first. Don’t rely on the contact information given to you by the scammers; instead, look it up yourself.
  • If you have already paid money, stop any further payments immediately and report to the scam to the ACCC or police.


Phishing scams are attempts by scammers to trick you into giving out your personal information, such as your bank account details, passwords and debit or credit card numbers, by pretending to be from a legitimate business, such as a bank, telephone or internet provider, or even the University. Scammers may attempt to contact you by text message, phone call or email.

  • If you recieve a text, phone call or email claiming to be from a bank, telecommunications provider or the University, asking you to vertify or update your bank details, password or debit or credit card details.
  • The text or email does not address you by your proper name, and may contact typing errors or grammatical mistakes.
  • The contact or website address does not look legitimate, and may contact typing errors or grammatical mistakes. 
  • The University, your bank or telecommunications provider will never ask you to verify your personal details via text, over the phone or via email. Never give out your bank account details, passwords or debit or credit card details to anyone you cannot verify as legitimate. 
  • Do not click on any links or attachments from emails claiming to be the University, bank or another trusted organisation and asking you to verify or update your personal details. 
  • Look for the secure symbol. Secure websites can be identified by the use of 'https:' rather than 'http:' at the start of the internet address, or a closed padlock or unbroken key icon at the bottom right corner of your browser window.

Threats and extortion

Scams that involve threats are designed to frighten you into handing over your money. Scammers may tell you that you have broken the law, have unpaid fines or bills, or that there are problems with your immigration papers or visa status, and threaten your life, to arrest you or deport you unless fees are paid to correct the errors.

  • You recieve a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from a government department, debt collection agency or trusted organisation, claiming there has been an error on your behalf. 
  • The caller claims you have broken the law and in order to resolve the matter you need to pay a fine or fee. 
  • The caller claims there are issues with your visa, immigration forms, or immigration status. 
  • The caller claims the police will come to your door and arrest you if you do not pay the fee or fine immediately. 
  • The government, banks and other trusted organisations will never threaten your life or to arrest you, and never ask you to pay a fee or fine over the phone. If you recieve a call from someone claiming to be from an official organisation, threatening you or asking you to pay a fee or fine, hang up immediately. 
  • Do not respond to emails or texts that threaten you. If you do, scammers may escalate their intimidation and attempts to get your money. 
  • Never send money or give your credit card details to anyone you do not know or trust. 
  • If you are concerned for your safety, contact the police.

Jobs and employment

Jobs and employment scams involve scammers tricking you into handing over your personal details or money by offering you a 'guaranteed' way to make fast money or secure a high-paying job. Scammers may also lure you into meeting with them in person, claiming to offer or help you secure a job.

  • You come across an email, phone call, message on social media or an advertisement offering you a guaranteed job or income. 
  • The message claims lots of money can be made with little effort using your personal computer.
  • The message asks you to provide your personal details, such as your debit or credit card details, or asks you to pay a fee for more information about the job or start-up materials. 
  • You're contacted via text, phone, email or LinkedIn and asked to meet someone in person at a café, park or hotel so they can offer or help you secure a job.
  • Be suspicious of unsolicited 'work from home' opportunities or job offers, particularly those that offer a 'guaranteed income' or require you to pay an upfront fee.
  • A legitimate employer will never ask you to provide your personal details via text, phone or email, or require you to pay an upfront fee. Never give out your persional details or transfer money to someone you do not know. 
  • Be wary of meeting with strangers in person, particularly if they claim to offer or help secure you a job.

Rental property

Rental property scams can involve scammers tricking you into paying a bond, deposit, or rent up-front for a property that doesn't exist, taking your immigration forms, visa or passport away as 'deposit', tricking you into paying higher rental rates or being deceptive about how a property looks or the features it has.

  • There is no advertisement for the rental property or the advertisement does not contain any photos of the property.
  • The real estate agent or landlord refuses to let you see the property.
  • The photos or description of the property in the advertisement do not match reality upon inspection.
  • The advertised rent is a lot cheaper or a lot more expensive than other similar properties in the area. 
  • The real estate agent or landlord asks you to provide them with your physical immigration documents, visa or passport in order to secure the rental property.
  • Inspect the property yourself and ensure it matches the photos and descriptions in the advertisement. 
  • Be suspicious of real estate agents or landlords who do not allow you to view the property before paying them bond or deposit, or before signing the lease. 
  • Be wary of rental properties that are very cheap or very expensive. 
  • Never pay a bond, deposit or rent up-front before you have physically inspected the rental property yourself.
  • A legitimate real estate agent or landlord will never ask to take your physical immigration documents, visa or passport. Do not give these physical personal documents to anyone. 


Academic scams can involve scammers claiming to work for reputable tutoring companies affiliated with the University and tricking you into engaging their services for writing or completing your University assignments. These scammers, commonly known as 'contract cheating companies', may try to cheat you out of your money, personal details or education.

  • You're contacted via email, text or social media by someone claiming to be from a tutoring company affiliated with the University.
  • They claim to offer specialised exam support and guaranteed high results.
  • They offer their services to provide answers or complete your assignments for you. 
  • They demand you pay a fee up-front in return for completing your assignment.
  • You're asked to provide proof of enrolment (i.e. your Unikey, SID, letter of offer) to access their services.


  • The University is not affilitated with any tutoring companies. If a tutoring company claiming to be affiliated with the University offers you their services, do not respond. 
  • Legitimate tutoring companies will never complete assignments for you or demand fees up-front to complete your University work. 
  • Never submit your academic University task to a commercial service or arrange another person to complete an assignment or sit your exam. This is contract cheating and is in violation of the University's academic integrity policy
  • Never provide your University login details or personal information to anyone you do not trust. 

Where to get help 

If you have been scammed, you should report the incident to the ACCC and take the ACCC's advice to limit the damage and protect yourself from further loss. 

Visit the ACCC's website Scamwatch for more information on how to protect yourself and others from scams. 

13 March 2023

Wellbeing services

  • +61 488 884 429 (For SMS chat)
  • Level 5, Jane Foss Russell Building, G02.
Opening hours
9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.

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