Beware of scams

Be on the look out for scams

Scammers are currently taking advantage of the spread of COVID-19 to exploit people.

Epidemics and pandemics tend to be a time when scams start to ramp up.

Scammers may start falsely selling COVID-19-related products online using fake emails or text messages to try and obtain personal data.

Scamwatch has received reports of:

  • phishing emails and phone calls impersonating entities. These include the World Health Organisation, government authorities, people confirmed to have COVID-19, and legitimate businesses such as travel agents and telecommunications companies
  • people receiving misinformation about COVID-19 sent via text, social media and email
  • products claiming to be a vaccine or cure for COVID-19
  • investment scams claiming COVID-19 has created opportunities.

Therefore, it is important to stay vigilant about the security of your personal information and to only take note of information and advice from reputable sources.

Watch out for online shopping scams during the holiday season

Scammers or fraudsters create fake websites offering very low prices and asking for payment through direct bank transfer or cryptocurrency. They also post fake ads, often claiming they are travelling and will deliver for you. Victims will receive a fake item or nothing at all. Check independent reviews of online stores or the seller’s history before buying. 

Check out Scamwatch for more information on how to protect yourself.

What to do if you receive a call asking for money

If you receive a phone call from a person claiming to be in authority (e.g. police from China or elsewhere) asking for money, they could be trying to steal your money.

These are the steps you should take:

  1. Hang up.
  2. Do not pay any money.
  3. Contact UNSW Security on 9385 6000 or your Consulate in Sydney for advice.
  4. Report to the NSW Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or to your local police station.
 

Special information for international students

Most students think they will never fall for a scam, but many do. That’s because scammers are very clever and increasingly sophisticated. 

Scammers often specifically target international students for money. If you receive a request from UNSW, government, or police agency asking for money, please contact International Student Support for advice to see whether it is legitimate (a real request). This is confidential and will not effect your visa or enrolment.

The main fees that UNSW will charge you for are your regular tuition fees (including SSAF), library fines, or rent for accommodation if you live on campus.

If you suspect something might be a scam, you can call us on + 61 2 9385 4734 or log a request online. Never give your details or money to someone claiming to be from UNSW unless you are sure it is legitimate. 

Scammers will often pretend to be from an official organisation such as:

  • Australia’s immigration office or other government departments
  • An official visa agent
  • Australian police
  • An Embassy, High Commission or Consulate
  • UNSW
  • The World Health Organisation
  • A property rental agent.

Scammers will want money or information and may ask you to:

  • provide personal, bank or credit card details
  • send money to a third party
  • pay additional student fees or a fine
  • pay a ‘deposit’
  • pay additional money for your visa
  • pay your rent to someone other than your landlord.

Scammers may threaten and lie to you by saying ‘unless you pay money/fees/fine':

  • your visa will be cancelled
  • your place at university will be cancelled
  • you will fail your course
  • you will be deported
  • you will be arrested
  • you will lose your job
  • you will be evicted.

None of this is true.

‘Phishing’ messages are also common COVID-19 scams which:

  • appear to be official information from the Australian government or other organisation
  • can be emails, text messages or social media posts
  • ask you to click on a link for more information on COVID-19 so that malicious software can ‘steal’ your personal, financial and banking information.

What should I do if I suspect a scam?

  • Do not provide any information.
  • If you receive a phone call – hang up.
  • If you receive a text, email or social post that you are not sure about, delete it. Do not reply. Do not click on any links.
  • If you receive a request for money, or a threat, or if you have any doubts or suspicions about any request – cut off communication and contact the International Student Experience Unit to check whether it is real.
  • Speak up! Don’t be afraid to seek help or advice. Speaking up protects you, your family and other students.

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