With all the stress that university students face, scammers are taking advantage of their stressed state by piling on the pressure through some concerning scams involving supposed unpaid tuition fees and fake tutoring companies.

As these tuition fees and tutoring scams are major safety and financial concerns, we're going to take a deep dive into each scam and what you can do to stay safe from scammers.

Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.

What exactly are these tuition fee scams?

A number of tuition fee scams involving fake discounts have been making the rounds across several universities. These scams essentially revolve around students being offered either a discount on their tuition fees or an interest-free loan to pay their tuition fees.

The scammer will ask students to provide an initial payment and their student login details. This payment is made to the scammer directly rather than the university, and the victim will receive a fake 'proof of payment' receipt that was in fact made to the university using a stolen credit card.

As a result, the targeted student will still have their outstanding tuition fees, a large chunk of their money stolen, and potentially a negative impact on their academic enrolment status due to unpaid tuition fees.

What are the warning signs?

Always stay vigilant and be mindful of red flags such as:

  • Tuition fees are set and universities don’t offer discounts.

  • Providing a discount for other bills to gain your trust.

  • Providing little, to no details about them or their organisation.

  • Inflexible payment options, such as immediate payments and payments in full only.

  • Contacting you through an online chat or a random call.

What are the tutoring scams?

Tutoring scams involve scammers claiming to work for reputable tutoring companies affiliated with big-name universities and tricking students into engaging with their "services" for completing uni assignments.

This scam generally starts with the scammer contacting the targeted student and offering specialised exam support with guaranteed high results, or offering to provide answers or complete assignments. The scammer will then ask for an upfront fee, as well as proof of enrolment for their "services".

Once the money and other personal details are exchanged, the scammer disappears, leaving the victim out of pocket.

What are the warning signs?

There are a number of signs and red flags for this type of scam, including:

  • Being randomly contacted via email, text or social media by someone claiming to be from a tutoring company affiliated with your university.

  • Claiming to offer specialised exam support and guaranteed high results.

  • Offering to provide answers or complete your assignments for you.

  • Demanding you pay a fee up-front in return for completing your assignment.

  • Asking you to provide proof of enrolment (i.e. your Unikey, SID, letter of offer) to access their services.

How do I protect myself against these scams?

The first thing is to not panic and keep calm. Scammers can't do anything if you don't interact with them. Make sure you:

  • Never transfer any money.

  • Know who you’re dealing with - never trust anyone that you don’t know directly.

  • Keep your personal details, devices, and passwords secure.

  • Do not reply to any emails or text messages, and do not click on any links.

  • If someone calls threatening you (especially international students being arrested or deported) hang up the phone and report the call immediately to the university and the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

  • If you feel like you're a victim of a tuition fee or tutoring scam, report it to the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

If you've shared personal or financial details with a scammer, you need to:

  • Contact your bank immediately to let them know what happened and ask what they can do to help.

  • Change the passwords for any online accounts that might be at risk. Make sure to use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication for an extra layer of security.

  • If you've shared personally sensitive information, such as your driver's licence, passport details, or contact details, visit IDCare for assistance on how to address potential identity theft.

  • File a report with the Australian Cyber Security Centre here.

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Image credit: The Social Network

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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