Guidance on scams for international students

Updated on 25 September 2023

Some criminals specifically target international students, often by making threatening phone calls, or sending intimidating emails or messages on social media to trick them into sending money or sharing personal information.

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Whenever you receive a telephone call from someone who you do not know, remember that it could be a scam. Criminals use all kinds of ways to trick you into paying them money, or giving them valuable information about yourself. Not all scams are about immigration. 

Is it fraud? 

You can help protect yourself by being aware of the common features of these fraudulent calls (‘scams’). 

  • The caller may appear to be genuine and convincing, because they have some limited information about you (for example, your passport number, as well as your telephone number and name). 
  • The caller may give you their name and telephone number, to try to convince you they are genuine. 
  • They may say that there is a serious problem with your immigration status, and that you need to pay a fine or send a payment. 
  • The payment is, most commonly, demanded to be made via Western Union as soon as possible, supposedly to prevent further action or investigation by the UK Home Office. 
  • The caller will speak in dramatic terms, perhaps talking about deportation or cancelling your visa. This is a common fraudster's technique, to make you panic and become pressurised into paying the fake fine. 

How to respond 

If you receive such a call (or a similar contact by any other means, for example email or text) we advise as follows: 

  • Simply hang up. 
  • Do not give the caller/sender any personal information, and do not confirm that any information they have is correct. 
  • Do not make any payment. The Home Office does not issue financial penalties. Nor does UKCISA. 

How to report an incident 

Identifying a Legitimate Home Office Communication 

Official Home Office email addresses are always in this format: 


These are the formats of official Foreign and Commonwealth Office email addresses: 


The Home Office will not contact people by phone in the methods described above, nor will they ask you to pay money for fines over the phone or offer legal services to you.  

Often, Home Office communications come in the form of emails or letters. If you are worried about the legitimacy of any email or letter, please forward it to us at and we will help.  

Official UK government websites will always end in “” 

Beware of Property Let Fraud

As you embark on your journey to secure accommodation in Dundee, it's crucial to remain vigilant and informed about property let fraud. While searching for the suitable place to live, you might encounter unscrupulous individuals looking to take advantage of your housing needs. Here are some important tips to help you stay safe:

  • Beware of Gumtree and Marketplace Scams: Be particularly cautious when using Gumtree and Marketplace for property searches, as these platforms have been known to host fraudulent listings.
  • Research the Landlord: Search for the landlord's name online to see if they have a legitimate presence. Check if the property is listed on reputable rental platforms or real estate websites.
  • Visit the Property: Insist on visiting the property in person before making any payments. Be wary of landlords who make excuses for not allowing visits.
  • Check Ownership and Documentation: Request proof of ownership from the landlord. They should be able to provide documents supporting their ownership of the property. Verify the property's ownership details with the local land registry office.
  • Meet in Person: If possible, meet the landlord in person to discuss terms and view the property. Be cautious of landlords who only communicate through email or text and avoid meeting face-to-face.
  • Use Official Contact Information: Obtain the landlord's contact information from a reliable source, such as the property listing on a reputable website. Be cautious if the landlord provides contact details that are different from those listed.
  • Never Wire Money: Avoid landlords who request wire transfers or payments in cryptocurrency as these are common tactics used by scammers. Use secure and traceable payment methods. 
  • Be Skeptical of Low Prices: If the rent seems too good to be true for the location and property type, it might be a red flag. Scammers often use low prices to attract potential victims.
  • Research the Area: Familiarize yourself with average rental prices in the area to recognize unusually low prices.
  • Ask for a Lease Agreement: Legitimate landlords provide a formal lease agreement detailing terms and conditions. Read the lease carefully before signing and ensure you understand all terms.
  • Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off or if the landlord is pressuring you to make quick decisions, take a step back and reassess the situation.
  • Use Reputable Rental Agencies: Consider renting through well-known and reputable rental agencies that have a track record of legitimate transactions.
  • Search for Reviews: Look for reviews or testimonials from previous tenants about the landlord and property. Negative reviews or a lack of online presence can be warning signs.

Prioritize your safety and security during your housing search. If you suspect fraudulent activity, promptly report it to or Your well-being is our top priority.

Police Scotland online Safety Guide

Police Scotland aims to provide you with important safety advice to help prevent you becoming a victim of crime.

Student online safety guide - Police Scotland

Further Reading  


International Advice Service

+44 (0)1382 385676