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Standard fact sheet.
Large print fact sheet.

International students 

Consumer guide  

In Australia, every person has consumer rights and responsibilities, and our trade practices are different from many overseas countries. Every person has the right to be protected from unfair business practices. 

This information provides you with basic tips about your consumer rights and responsibilities in NSW.

Shopping and refunds 

As a shopper you have certain rights. The information you get about a product or service must be accurate and the product must be labelled correctly. You are entitled to a receipt upon request as a proof of transaction when you buy goods and services. The law gives you consumer guarantees in case things go wrong. It is a promise about what supplier or manufacturer will do against defects under the Australian Consumer Laws (ACL).

When you CAN get a refund

The seller should provide a refund (money back), exchange or repair when the product:

  • is unsafe or faulty
  • doesn't do the job it's supposed to do, for example a vacuum cleaner does not suck loose dirt and crumbs from the floor or carpet in your house
  • is different to the sample or description you saw.

If the problem is serious, you can choose to return the product and get a refund. Generally, the seller will require proof of transaction such as a receipt, invoice or credit card statement.

When you CANNOT get a refund

The seller does not have to give you a refund if you:

  • change your mind about a product, for example if you do not like the colour or it is not the right size (unless the shop has a generous returns policy)
  • damage the product by not following the instructions or using it incorrectly
  • were aware of a fault before you bought the product
  • do not have a receipt or proof of transaction.

Read more about Refunds on the Fair Trading website.

Shopping online

When you buy products online or through the internet from an overseas seller, you may not be protected by the Australian Consumer Laws.

Here are some tips to protect yourself when shopping online: 

  • If you are dealing with a seller for the first time, check the seller's business details by calling them before your purchase
  • Compare prices, postage, delivery, refund and return policies
  • Read customers reviews about the seller
  • Check if the site is secure before paying. Look for a key or closed padlock icon at the bottom or top of the computer screen
  • Never give out your password or personal bank details
  • Check the exchange rate, sales tax and import duties (overseas seller)
  • Print out the payment or order confirmation and keep it in a safe place
  • Be careful of offers that sound too good to be true
  • Check SCAMwatch at for the latest scams.
 TIP - Do not use public computers for online shopping or banking as they may not be secure.


Before placing a deposit on a product, make sure you are definitely going to buy it as you may lose all or part of your deposit if you change your mind.

 TIP - Always keep all receipts and invoices as you may need them if you want to return, repair or exchange the products.

If things go wrong

If you have a problem with something you have bought, follow these steps:

  1. Contact the seller: 
    • Explain how you want the situation resolved. 
    • Keep the receipt and any other documents that relate to the sale (such as the warranty or quote). 
    • Write down the names of the people you speak to and what was said. 
  2. Call Fair Trading or lodge an online complaint, if you cannot come to an agreement with the seller. We may contact the seller to help negotiate a resolution. 
  3. Contact the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) if the problem remains unresolved. NCAT resolves a wide range of disputes.

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Mobile phones and data plans 

If you are planning to buy a mobile phone or connect to the internet through an internet service provider follow these tips: 

  • Shop around - look at different types of plans, compare prices and services offered by different network providers. Consider using pre-paid mobile phones or internet.
  • Read the contract - if you decide to get on a plan (pay monthly), make sure you fully read and understand the terms and conditions of the contract, including the small print, before you sign it.
  • Check the payments - before you sign a contract find out what your monthly payments will be. Be careful with plans as you may be charged a higher rate if you go over the plan's call or data quota.
  • Check network coverage - look at the coverage maps on the provider's website and contact the phone provider to find out the quality of reception in the areas you will use the phone or internet.
  • Beware of free ringtone offers - before you download a ringtone check the seller's terms and conditions to ensure that you are not agreeing to further unwanted ringtones, which will cost you money. For more information visit
  • Beware of scams - if you receive an email, sms or a text message from an unknown sender, asking you to open an attachment, enter a competition or to answer a quiz to win a prize, do not respond or open any attachment! By responding you may sign up to an expensive service you do not want.
  • Report a lost or stolen phone - contact your service provider immediately to stop the service. If you are on a plan, you may still need to pay the monthly contract fee.
  • Keep your contract - make sure you keep your receipts, warranty and other paperwork as proof of transaction. You may need them to get your money back or exchange your phone if it is faulty or breaks down soon after you buy it.
  • Check your data usage - if you use internet or email, check your data download limit to avoid expensive bills. You can check your account online or by calling or sending a text message to your service provider.
 IMPORTANT - If you sign any paperwork, it is probably a contract, which is a legal document. Take the time to carefully read all documents and do not sign anything you are not sure of or do not understand. Do not be afraid to ask questions.

Prepaid phone cards

There are many different phone calling cards that you can use to make local or international calls. If the card has a local customer service number you should call it if you have problems and to find out the following:

  • What are the current call charges?
  • Does the phone card have an expiry date?
  • What is the value of the card? Some cards may not have the full value of the amount you paid.
  • Is there a connection fee in addition to the per-minute charges?

Need help?

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)

If you have a problem with a phone card, phone or internet service, try to sort it out with the seller or your network provider. If you cannot come to an agreement, contact the TIO on 1800 062 058 or visit

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Buying a car 

Before buying a car privately, follow these tips: 

  • Shop around and check the prices on the internet or newspapers.
  • Inspect the car very well. Ask the seller whether the car has been involved in an accident and check the car's service history (log book).
  • Ask the seller to go for a short drive to test the car. You can find a car buyers inspection checklist in the Motor vehicles section of the Fair Trading website.
  • Pay a mechanic to do a car inspection for you. It may be worth paying for an inspection because when you buy a car privately there is usually no warranty.
  • Do a Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) check (for a small fee) to find out if the car has money owing (debt), which also includes a PPSR certificate. A clear PPSR certificate will protect you against the car being repossessed (taken away) from you for undisclosed debts on the car. Never rely on the seller's PPSR certificate - always get your own. To do a PPSR check you will need the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) or chassis number and manufacturer's number. Make sure you get these details from the car itself and write them down correctly. Check that they match the details on the car's registration papers. You can do a PPSR check online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at or call 1300 007 777.
  • Once you have bought the car, you need to transfer the car registration into your name within 14 days of buying it. If yo do not, a late transfer fee may apply. To transfer the registration into you name, you will need to bring the following with you to your local Service NSW office:
    • notice of disposal submitted by the previous owner
    • the current certificate of registration
    • your proof of transaction (such as a receipt showing the date of purchase)
    • your proof of identity (passport and driver's licence)
    • MyServiceNSW account connected to Roads and Maritime Services
    • money to pay for the stamp duty and transfer fee.
  • You can also transfer your registration online after the previous owner has submitted a notice of disposal. 
  • If the car is not registered you cannot drive it. Call Roads and Maritime Services on 13 22 13 to get an Unregistered Vehicle Permit (UVP) which is valid for 28 days and get advice on how to get your car registered.
  • You may also want to take out insurance on your car to cover you if you are in an accident. There are two types of insurance available for your vehicle:
    • Third party property - which covers you for the damage your car might cause to someone else's car or property.
    • Comprehensive - which provides third party property cover and also covers your car for accidental damage, theft and fire.

My next car app

My next car is a free app that helps you choose your next car. You can:

  • record details of cars you are interested in
  • use inspection checklists to identify record and take a photo of any problems
  • compare cars side-by-side on the comparison screen
  • compare loans
  • look up tips and advice.

Get My Next Car - download the free app today from the App Store or Google Play!

Need help?

NSW Fair Trading
For information on buying a car go to the Motor vehicles section of the Fair Trading website.

Roads and Maritime Services
For information on buying a new or used car, to register the car or transfer the car registration visit or call 13 22 13.

Service NSW
For information to register the car or transfer the car registration visit or call 13 77 88.

Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR)
To find out if a used car has any debt visit or call 1300 007 777. Always do a PPSR check before you buy a car privately.

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In Australia most people either rent or buy their own unit or house. To rent a home you have to sign a contract (lease) called a Residential Tenancy Agreement with a landlord. The landlord can use a real estate agent to manage the property for them. 

A lease is usually for either 6 or 12 months. Before you sign the lease make sure you understand what you are signing. You can ask the real estate agent or landlord to explain the terms and conditions of your lease before you sign it. Make sure you know exactly how much rent you will need to pay and how you will pay it, for example, every fortnight, by direct debit from your bank account. Keep all your rent receipts or bank statements if you pay on the internet. Don't pay any money until you sign the lease and get the keys, unless you are asked for a holding fee of up to 1 week's rent and your rental application has been approved. The landlord or agent cannot ask you to pay the rent more than 2 weeks in advance.

At the start of every tenancy the landlord or agent is required to give you the Fair Trading fact sheet called New tenant checklist. The checklist is also available in community languages from our website. Make sure you can answer Yes to every statement in the checklist, before you sign the Tenancy Agreement.

Condition report

You must be given a Condition Report when you sign the Tenancy Agreement. This is a checklist of the condition of each room in the property. You should get two copies, already filled in by the landlord/real estate agent. You need to inspect every room carefully and check whether you agree with what they said and write down if there is anything you do not agree with. It is also a great way to take photos of the property to record the condition of the property when you first move in and make sure you put the dates when the photos were taken. Complete the Condition Report and return one copy to the landlord or agent within 7 days and keep one copy for your records in a safe place. You will need it again when you move out. 

Bond money

Before you move in you will need to pay a bond. This bond money is a form of security for the landlord in case you do not follow the lease agreement. The maximum bond you can be asked to pay is 4 weeks rent. If you are asked to pay a bond make sure you get a receipt. The bond must be lodged with Fair Trading, through Rental Bonds Online securely or through the landlord or agent using a paper Rental Bond lodgement form.


Once you are renting, if something needs to be fixed (for example, a leaking tap) and it's not your fault, the landlord will need to get it repaired in a reasonable time. Some repairs are urgent (such as a gas leak, blocked toilet or electrical fault) and the landlord has to fix them very quickly. You should let your landlord or agent know what needs to be fixed as soon as possible by calling them or sending them an email or a letter. Keep a copy of any emails or letters in case there are problems. You have to continue paying rent while the repairs are being organised.

Moving out

If you are planning to move out you have to inform your landlord or real estate agent in advance, in writing. Check your Residential Tenancy Agreement for details on how much notice you need to give. You should clean the property and make sure there is no damage or rent owing. Return the keys promptly and arrange to do a final inspection with the agent or landlord. Both you and your landlord should complete and sign a Claim for Refund of Bond Money form to get your bond money back. If you have not caused any damage or owe any money you should get your bond back.

Sharing accomodation

If you are not on a lease with the landlord or a sub-tenant lease, you may be a boarder or lodger. Boarders living in 'registerable' boarding houses have a basic set of rights called occupancy principles for more details visit the Living in a boarding house page.

If you choose to share a rented home, you will have different obligations and processes to follow depending on the type of agreement you enter. Visit the Sharing a rented home page to find out more about agreements and responsibilities.

 TIP - Beware of fake rental advertisements. Always check renting advertisements are real by visiting the property yourself or ask a relative or a friend if you are overseas. Check the company or person's details online or from another independent source. Never pay any money before you sign the lease and have the keys.

Need help?

NSW Fair Trading
More information about renting is available in a range of languages from the Fair Trading website. If you have a problem with your landlord call Fair Trading on 13 32 20 or 13 14 50 for language assistance.

Tenants' Union
Provides free assistance and advice to tenants.
Tel: 1800 251 101

NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)
Provides a quick and low cost dispute resolution service for tenants, landlords, traders and consumers.
Tel: 1300 006 228

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Education and training 

When selecting education and training courses check if the institution you wish to study with is registered to deliver training to overseas students and is listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) at

By law, a training provider must not accept course money from an international student until the student has signed a written agreement with them. Make sure you fully read and understand the agreement and its terms and conditions before you sign it.

Be aware that if you decide to leave your current education provider, you may not be entitled to a refund of the course money you have paid. You should check the terms and conditions of the written agreement that you signed when you first enrolled for details.

If you want to transfer from one training provider to another and you have not yet completed 6 months of your principal course then you must request permission to do so from your current provider. If you have signed up to a package of courses, the principal course is the one at the highest qualification level. You do not need to pay any money to the new provider or their agent until you have received your letter of release from your current provider. If you are released, only then you can complete your enrolment and sign a written agreement with the new provider.

If you have any questions or problems with your study, safety, accommodation or work, you should contact the International Students Office of your institution or call Australian Education International Student on 1300 615 262 for assistance.

Need help?

Australian Education International
If your education and training institution has not delivered the training or course you are enrolled in or the training provider has closed, call Australian Education International on 1300 566 046 or make an enquiry through the online ESOS Enquiry Form at Australian Education International also has information on students rights and obligations, transferring to another education provider and other subjects.

Overseas Students Ombudsman for students with private providers
If you have a problem with your non-government (private) education provider, and you have told them about it but the problem is still not fixed, contact the Overseas Students Ombudsman on 1300 362 072 or visit to lodge a complaint. 

Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS)
Check the institution you wish to study with is registered to deliver the training at

Study in Australia
For information on studying and living in Australia visit

Department of Immigration and Border Protection
For any questions or information about your visa call 13 18 81 or visit

Ombudsman NSW
If you have been excluded from a university or TAFE course in NSW you have a number of ways to appeal the decision or make a complaint if you think the decision is unfair or wrong. All students have a right to an internal and external review. Call 02 9286 1000 or 1800 451 524 (outside Sydney) or visit for more information.

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Gym memberships 

Before you sign up to a gym membership you should be aware of the following:

  • Do not be pressured into signing a gym membership on the spot. Shop around and consider a casual membership for a month or a few visits to see if the gym is right for you.
  • Read the gym contract in full, check the fees and cancellation charges and make sure you understand the terms and conditions before you sign the contract. Some membership contracts may have a cooling-off period (a limited period of time when you can cancel the contract in writing without paying the cancellation fee, if you change your mind).
  • If you need to cancel the gym membership, check your contract to see what you need to do. You may need to pay a cancellation fee.
  • Consider 3 or 6-month membership as they are often no more expensive than a 12-month membership.
  • Check if the gym is a member of Fitness Australia at or call 1300 211 311.

Need help?

If you have a problem with a gym, check if it is a member of Fitness Australia at or call 1300 211 311. If the gym is a member, Fitness Australia will help negotiate your dispute if you send it to them in writing.

If the gym is not a member of Fitness Australia or you cannot resolve the problem, call Fair Trading on 13 32 20 for help and advice.

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Credit card chargeback 

Chargeback is a refund facility available from credit card providers. It may be possible for you to request a chargeback from your credit card provider if:

  • goods or services that you have ordered have not been provided, yet your credit card has been charged
  • a transaction is made with your credit card without your approval or authorisation.

A time limit may apply for the use of this facility. For further information regarding chargeback, contact your credit card provider.

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A scam is a trick or a fraud when you pay money but get nothing back for it or you get something that is worth much less than the money you paid. Scams can be anywhere - in the mail, email, internet, in person or over the phone. There are many types of scams, here are some examples:

  • Work offers - can be found on power poles, newspapers, notice boards, emails. The scammer may ask you to pay an up-front fee into a bank account or send money to a post office box before you can start work. Once you have paid your money, the person offering the work may get you to run similar advertisements to get other unsuspecting victims into the scam.
  • Money transfer - scammers may trick you into buying or selling something from their fake websites or ask you to donate money to a fake charity that does not exist or promise huge rewards for a small fee. Be very cautious about sending money to someone you do not know.
  • Rental scams - be aware of fake rental advertisements on the internet, newspapers or power poles which may appear to be real by showing photos and details of a property that is not for rent. Always inspect the property and check the details are correct. Never pay money in advance without inspecting the property, especially if you are overseas.
  • Mobile phone scams - can be difficult to recognise. Be wary of a stranger who talks as if they know you. Do not redial a missed call from an unknown number, there may be hidden charges.
  • Online shopping and auction scams - be careful when shopping online and using sellers with poor online ratings or who offer to sell to you cheaper in a direct deal. Use only well known and reputable sites and sellers.
IMPORTANT - Never send money or personal details to a person or business you do not know. 

Here are some tips to avoid scams: 

  • If an offer sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
  • Never send money or give personal details to a person or business you do not know.
  • Never use public computers to do online shopping or banking.
  • Do not respond to or open unknown emails or click on the links provided in them.
  • Do not be pressured to make a decision on the spot.
  • Take time to do your own research and ask lots of questions.
  • Keep your computer secure with up-to-date anti-virus software.
  • Always check if the site is secure before paying online.
  • Check SCAMwatch at for the latest scams to avoid.

Reporting scams and cybercrime

If you have been the victim of a cybercrime, such as hacking, an online scam or fraud, identity theft, an attack on your computer system or if you are aware of illegal or prohibited online content, you can report it to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) on their website at ACORN will make sure your report goes to the right law enforcement or government agency for consideration.

You do not need to lose money to be able to report a scam. If you see or hear about a scam - report it.

If the scam originates from NSW or you know the name of the business or trader and they are located in NSW, you can report the scam to NSW Fair Trading online through Lodge a complaint or call 13 32 20.

If the scam originates from outside NSW or overseas you can report it to SCAMwatch at SCAMwatch is a website run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.

Need help?

For information on scams, how they work, how to protect yourself from scams, report a scam and what to do if you have been scammed. Register with SCAMwatch to receive free email alerts on new scams.

Stay Smart Online Service

Australian Cybercrime Online Report Network (ACORN)
For information on cyber scams
A network of international government organisations, where you can report complaints about online and other related transactions with foreign companies.

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Online resources 

Fair Trading has a range of online resources to assist you understand your consumer and renting rights while in NSW:

NSW Fair Trading welcomes your feedback. If you would like to comment or make a complaint about our services, you can download and complete a Customer feedback form available in 7 languages from the Feedback section of the Fair Trading website.

More information is available from the Publications section of this website including translated publications in a range of community languages.

Contact NSW Fair Trading

NSW Fair Trading is the state government agency responsible for protecting consumers' rights. We provide free assistance and information on shopping and renting rights. We can provide information to consumers about options to resolve disputes with traders and in some cases our staff can attempt to negotiate a settlement.

If you have problems with refunds, warranties, consumer guarantees, buying a car, renting, buying a house or scams call 13 32 20. You can also visit Service NSW at to obtain information and to find your local centre.

If you need language assistance, contact the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 13 14 50 and ask for an interpreter in your language.

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