Protect yourself from scams

Scams are unfortunately common. So it is important to be vigilant when you are searching for a place to live, especially if arranging from a distance.

Recognising scams can help protect you from losing your money. Reporting scams can help protect others from losing their money.

Even if you are unsure about whether something is a scam, we strongly encourage you to contact Student Housing to get advice about housing arrangements you suspect to be untrustworthy. If unsure, contact us before sending any money.

Report scams to SCAMWatch at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Scam warning signs

  • Offers which seem too good to be true (e.g. promises of cheap rent)
  • Ongoing excuses as to why the property cannot be inspected
  • Securing the property requires an up front fee via money transfer. Never transfer money or provide your personal details, copy of your passport, bank details, your date of birth, etc to someone you have not met face-to-face, or on an application for a property you have not inspected in person
  • The "landlord" claims to live overseas

What to do when looking for accommodation

  • Inspect properties and rooms in person
  • No matter how authentic an advertisement looks, the photos and details could have been copied from elsewhere
  • Ensure you have the landlord’s complete and accurate contact details
  • Do not rely on testimonials provided through the advertiser
  • Search online for the address of the property, the name of the person offering the property and their email address – many scams can be identified this way
  • Use reputable websites with clear warnings about scams
  • Learn more about scams on the Australian Government's  SCAMWatch website.

Are you 'scam savvy'? Consumer Affairs Victoria have an online quiz that will test how well you can recognise possible scams.

How scammers work

One common scam involves the scammer placing an advertisement for a vacant property or a room to rent on online housing databases.

Once you respond to this advertisement, the scammer will then typically ask you to deposit money into a non-Australian bank account or to mail a cheque or money order to a non-Australian address.

In exchange for this up-front payment, the scammer assures you that keys to the property will be mailed to you shortly.

The keys will never arrive and you will have lost your money.