Keeping your money and information safe
Protect your money from scams and fraud while studying in Australia.
Macquarie wants to keep you safe while you study with us and we are aware that there has been a surge in scams and fraud targeting international students in Australia. Below is some information to help keep your finances and information safe, and contacts to reach out to if you are unsure about anything.
What is a scam?
A scam involves an organisation or individual who tries to deceive or trick victims into giving them money, personal information and/or identity.
If you think you've been scammed, contact:
- Your financial institution immediately
- Police Assistance Hotline: 131 444
- Student Wellbeing: +61 (2) 9850 7497
Warning signs to look out for
There are a few warning signs to keep a lookout for such as:
- discounts/offers that seem too good to be true,
- vague details or a lack of information,
- advising you not to call the police,
- threats of deportation or arrest, and
- demanding payment in untraditional method such as gift cards, crypto or unfamiliar payment portal with link sent to you.
Common scamming methods
Some methods that scammers might use include:
Legal offence: Scammers might tell you that you have committed a crime or have reports against you and you are in trouble – often with government departments such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or Department of Home Affair (DoHA). They then would demand you to take action immediately to avoid arrest, fine, deportation or cancellation of visa.
Unexpected money: Scammers might invent a seemly legitimate way to make you believe that you are entitled to a lump sum of money (cashback, Covid-19 support, disaster support…)
Investment: Scammers might offer you a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to make money quick and easy with little to zero risk.
Fake charity: Scammers might impersonate genuine charities and ask for money donations.
Unknown order/subscription/outstanding bill: You might receive a text message, phone call or email stating that you owe money to an organization (often a big company or a government department); or you are advised that you have a parcel/mail to collect. You would be asked to click on a link to organise payment of the outstanding bill, or pickup/delivery of the parcel.
Discounted tuition fee: Scammers are also known to have offered international students a ‘different way’ to pay for tuition fee with a discount. Macquarie University does not offer discounts on tuition fee. Information about secure ways to pay your tuition fee can be found on our How to pay website.
Preventative steps you can take
If you are looking to strengthen your personal security to keep yourself safe from scams, these tips are a great place to start.
- Limit the amount of personal information you put online and do not give your personal information to strangers
- Do not give money to strangers online
- Ensure your PINs and passwords are secure and private. We advise you use a strong PIN or password.
- If you suspect you have been targeted by a scammer, do not respond to them. Block their email and/or phone number and report it as soon as possible.
- If you are feeling uneasy or unsure about a phone call, you can always hang up and seek advice before making any decisions.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it often is!
More information and tips to protect yourself can be found on the Australian Government's ScamWatch website.
I feel like I'm being scammed, what should I do?
If you receive a call, text message, email or any type of contact from stranger or even the account of people you know, consider:
Identify: Does it have any signs that it might be a scam, or does it feel right to you?
Pause and take some time: always keep in mind that you do not have to act straight away. Pause, or just hang up. Take the time you need to check it out properly before you proceed.
Seek support: Consult other people you trust, the university or the police - it is confidential.
Report: Make an online report to ScamWatch or the police on 131 444 – it is available 24/7.
Contacts available if you think you're being scammed
If you think that someone has your bank details, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
- Reach out to the Macquarie University Student Wellbeing for support.
- Report the matter to the Police. You can either make a report at a police station in person or contact the NSW Police Assistance Line on 131 444.
- Make a report to ScamWatch.
Please be reassured that Macquarie University staff and Australian authorities take these matters very seriously and we encourage you to reach out and let us know if you need any support because we are here to help.
We highly recommend you check out ScamWatch – it has a lot of resources and information on different types of scams, where to get help, news and statistics about scam activities in Australia.
Known recent scams
Below is some information on recent scams we are aware have been targeting International students studying in Australia
In recent years, NSW Police issued a warning to Chinese students following a rise in ‘virtual kidnappings’. The NSW Police force, together with Chinese authorities and universities, warned members of the community about an elaborate phone scam targeting Chinese students, known globally as a ‘virtual kidnapping’.
For more information, please read the NSW Police Force press release:
University fee payment scam
Don't be fooled by anyone who offers a discounted fee – this is a scam that the University has seen repeatedly. Tuition fees are set by the University and discounts are not offered under ANY circumstances.
Other types of scams include selling items at discounted rates, such as airline tickets or discounted exchange rates.
How to protect yourself:
- Be responsible for paying your own tuition fees directly to the University.
- Know the approved methods of payment.
- Never trust anyone who is claiming that they can offer you discounted fees, including a “friend” or “friend of a friend” or anyone acting as an “agency”.
- Protect your privacy – Don’t give your personal information to another person, including your eStudent password.