Scams and consumer rights

Scams


Scammers are highly active in Australia. In 2021, Australians lost hundreds of millions of dollars to scammers, who are now more prominent and sophisticated than ever.

International university students may be disproportionately targeted by scammers. Recently, there have been a number of high-profile scam events targeting university students, including those at ANU.

It's important to stay up-to-date with common scamming techniques and prevention strategies, so that you remain informed and protected.  
 

What to do if you've been scammed 

It's important to know that if you've been scammed, you may not get your money back. However, you may be able to limit damage and protect yourself and others from future loss. 

  1. Are you unclear about whether you're being scammed or not? If so, stop sending money immediately, until you can gain control of the situation. 
  1. Contact your financial institution. In some cases, they may be able to prevent or reverse the transaction. They can close your account if a scammer has your details. 
  1. Report the scam. Scams are often not reported, and doing so helps authorities track and address this type of crime. Scams can be reported to Scamwatch

You can also report certain scams to police. ACT Policing can be contacted on 131 444 or by visiting a local station. 

  1. If you are a victim of identity theft, it is important that you act quickly to reduce the risk of financial loss or other damages. See Scamwatch for more information.    
  1. Being scammed can leave you feeling distressed, so please reach out for assistance if you need it. See here for a list of supports available at ANU.  


See Scamwatch's Where to get help page for more detail and information about these steps.  
 

General tips and advice

Scamming techniques have increased in sophistication. Many scam attempts work because they appear legitimate, even to people familiar with scamming. To avoid scams, you should:  

  • Always verify the identity of individuals, businesses, or organisations that you are dealing with over the phone or online. For example, if you receive a call from a person claiming to be representing an organisation, you can hang up and call the organisation yourself on a number you know is legitimate.  
     
  • Do not open suspicious appearing links or attachments. Be particularly cautious of email and text - scammers use techniques that can make the name or address appear legitimate.  
  • Keep personal details secure, and be mindful of information about you that is publicly available - for example, on social media. Review your social media privacy settings. 
     
  • Have unique and secure passwords, or consider using a reputable password manager.  
     

Useful resources for scams

  • See ANU's page on phone scams targeting students here
  • Scamwatch has more detailed information, tips, and resources on spotting and reporting scams.  
  • See the Australian Government's Moneysmart resources on scams, including information on loan scams and companies you shouldn't deal with. 

 

Consumer issues 

Faulty goods and services, refunds, and replacement
 

Australia has consumer laws dictating how businesses and service providers must respond to faulty goods or services.

The following is a brief summary, with some general information only, that might assist you in some of the most common scenarios. See the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for detailed information.

  • If you purchase a product or service that does not meet Australian consumer guarantees, you are entitled to a remedy.
    • Products must match their descriptions, be fit for the advertised purpose, and meet promises made about performance.
    • Services must be provided with care, skill, or technical knowledge, and the provider must take all necessary steps to avoid loss or damage. Services must be fit for purpose or give you the results agreed to.
       
  • In the case of a faulty product, you can claim a remedy from a retailer in the form of a repair, replacement, or refund.
     
  • In general, because a purchase is an agreement between yourself and the seller, retailers cannot refuse to help you by referring you to the manufacturer.
     
  • You cannot claim a refund if you misused and damaged the product, or if you simply changed your mind (although some retailers do have change-of-mind policies).
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