Travel Visa Scams

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Travel Visa Scams

These scams occur when you are applying for a visa or visa waiver to travel to another company, only to discover that you have entered your details and/or paid money online to a fraudulent website. These websites aim to:

  • Steal your money
  • Acquire identity credentials

Please note that there are companies that will process your visa or visa waiver application, but may charge more for this service than if you were to use the official government channels. This can also increase the risk of your information becoming exposed due to on-selling of the data to other companies, a data breach or insecure transfer of information from the company to the visa issuing agency. Depending on the integrity of the organisation and the rules governing data breaches in that country, you may not be advised if your data is compromised.

Quick Facts
  • Travel visa scams are becoming more prevalent as travel restrictions ease worldwide.
  • Fake travel visa and/or visa waiver websites can be found for nearly every country.
  • The best way to confirm the legitimacy of a site is to visit the official government website of the country of travel, which can be found through DFAT or the NZ MFAT.
  • Before travel, give yourself plenty of time to research visa requirements and make the application. Many callers to IDCARE were under time pressure when they made their applications to fraudulent sites.
Prevention – How can I avoid a travel visa scam?
  • Check the travel visa requirements using the country’s official government website, which can be found through DFAT or the NZ MFAT. These websites will usually also provide links to the legitimate travel visa or waiver application sites or forms.  If in doubt, contact the embassy, consulate or country representative directly.
  • Be wary of websites offering “cheap” or “fast” application processing.  Visas and waivers are processed by the issuing government or their contracted service provider, so no external organisation can offer to do this faster or more cheaply than the issuing authority.
  • Most visa or waiver application sites operated by the country you wish to travel to will end in .gov or .go
Detection – Is this a scam?

Common signs that you may have submitted a visa or waiver application to a fraudulent site include:

  • The visa or waiver approval does not arrive
  • The organisation requires additional payment after you submit your application
  • The organisation cannot be reached via the website, email address or other online contact details
  • The website no longer exists and/or their email address is no longer active

If you are concerned that the company you have engaged to process your visa or waiver may not be legitimate, contact the embassy directly to confirm if your application has been received.

Response – What do I do now?

There is a risk that your passport may be used fraudulently for identification purposes.  You may wish to cancel your passport to reduce the risk (Australian passports contact DFAT on 131 232, for NZ passports contact DIA on 0800 22 50 50). If you do not wish to cancel your passport, IDCARE recommends that you:

  • Advise your banking and financial services and superannuation fund/s, and Services Australia or RealMe of the compromise of your passport details and request additional security on your accounts.
  • Contact all Credit Reporting Agencies for your free credit reports and to arrange credit bans.
  • Contact any other organisations that you have used your passport to confirm your identity. Inform them of the compromise and request extra security on these accounts.

If you provided your credit card details, contact your financial institution to advise them of the fraudulent payment, request additional security on your card, and seek advice regarding cancelling thecard.

Report the scam – you may not hear back from the agencies, but you will be assisting in raising awareness and reducing the harm caused by these scams to your community.

  • In Australia report to ReportCyber  and the ACCC
  • In New Zealand, report to police online and choose “Report a Police non-emergency”, and to NetSafe

For additional support or information, contact IDCARE by submitting a Get Help Form or call 1800 595 160 (Aus) or 0800 121 068 (NZ).

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Identity Care Australia & New Zealand Ltd (IDCARE) provides identity and cyber security incident response services (the Services) in accordance with the following disclaimer of service:

IDCARE is Australia and New Zealand’s national identity and cyber incident community support service. We are a not-for-profit charity.

  • The Services provided do not constitute legal advice. IDCARE recommends that you consult a solicitor in relation to your legal rights and obligations, including but not limited to your legal rights or obligations under Australian and international privacy and data protection laws.
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IDCARE is here to provide you with specialist support and guidance when faced with a cyber and identity related issue. Contact one of our Identity & Cyber Security Case Managers to learn more about our Support Services and how we can help you.   

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