Outsmarting scammers

A guide for students

What is a scam?

A scam is a crime in which somebody tries to trick you into giving them your money or to use your identity without permission. A scam is illegal, even if they do not succeed.

Scams generally involve organisations or individuals operating under unregistered names. Scams often prey on people’s vulnerability and use lies and tricks to convince you they are genuine. Scams can occur in places that you trust and anyone can be fooled by a clever scam.

Remember: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

One very common scam affecting International students is when somebody will offer you a 10% discount on your fees… if you pay it to them, not the University.

Discount scams

People who scam students can be very clever in the way they do it and can even recruit other students to do it for them. They may say that they are partnering with (working with) your University – this is not true.

  • In some cases the scam starts smaller – they offer a 10% discount on electricity bills and then they actually do give you a discount.
  • Then once they have your trust, the same people may say, “I can do that for university fees as well”.
  • Students are told to pay their fees to the other person minus 10%. Following this payment the full fees are paid by credit card – usually stolen. The credit card holder then disputes the payment, and the payment is reversed and the student is left with a large debt to the University.

Warning signs

There are some common warning signs that indicate someone may be trying to scam you. Be mindful of the following:

  • People or organisations offering surprisingly low prices or big discounts.
  • Lack of details. A fake organisation will probably not have very clear contact information or may be based overseas. They also may not have ‘fine print’ detail about terms and conditions.
  • Inflexible payment options. Someone may insist that you make payments immediately, in full or only pay by electronic funds transfer instead of through a secure payment service such as PayPal or a credit card transaction.

Protect yourself

So how do you protect yourself when you’re away from home, speaking a foreign language and aren’t always sure what’s official and who’s trustworthy?

  • Federation University Australia does not provide fee discounts to any third party. If someone else offers you a fees discount, they are lying. Always pay fees directly to the University.
  • Be suspicious of anything involving large sums of money.
  • If you’re contacted by anyone claiming to represent a university, the Australian government or other organisations, make no commitments. Contact that organisation directly and ask them if the information is true.
  • Stay connected with your friends and classmates. They will usually be the first people to hear about scams.
  • Stay engaged with your university or institution. Orientation programs include information about common scams, and support staff can give you advice if you are unsure.
  • Log onto Scam Watch and read about common types of scams.
  • Try to conduct business through reputable websites and organisations and steer away from forums and social media.

Where to get help

If you suspect something is a scam or that you have been scammed yourself, there are numerous things you can do.

You can report scams to the ACCC through Scam Watch. If you think you have been scammed or are ever concerned for your personal safety, report the matter to your local police station straight away and advise your university.

Above all, never be afraid to ask for help. Universities or institutions can assist students who have been scammed, but they must know what has happened to be able to help you. If you need advice, or have been scammed and need support, please just get in touch:

International student advisory: 03 5327 9446 or isa@federation.edu.au

Student Finance: 1800 333 864 or studentfees@federation.edu.au

FedUni Counselling Service: 03 5327 9470 or Lifeline: 13 11 14