It’s not long now till you get your next payment of student funding – which is something to smile about. However, did you know that more and more students are being targeted by fraudsters through phishing scams? Students are more likely to be contacted just before their funding is due to be paid. But there’s no need to panic – instead keep reading for more information on phishing and how you can protect yourself online.
What is phishing?
Phishing is when criminals try to obtain your money and /or personal information by pretending to be a company you have an account with, such as Student Finance England/ Student Loans Company, your bank, companies like Amazon, Paypal etc. They can contact you by sending emails or texts, or by phone. The scammers will usually ask you to log in to a fake site or verify your details – if you click on the email, some may release malicious software onto your computer, tablet or smartphone. Often they will claim there has been a security breach to encourage you to act quickly – and without thinking. Unfortunately, if you lose money to fraud this way, you probably won’t be able to get it back.
Every year, there is an increase in phishing emails sent to students claiming to be from SFE or SLC just before student funding instalments are paid – typically, these emails will ask you to confirm your security and/ or bank details in order to receive your payments. Don’t be fooled – SFE and SLC will never ask you to confirm your details in this way.
Be careful if you get texts claiming to be from your bank too; one student recently reported losing £5,400 to fraudsters – money that her bank is refusing to refund.
How can I tell if it’s a scam?
Some emails may be quite easy to identify – these might spell either your name or simple words wrong or have a strange address which does not have any connection with who the email is supposed to be from. Others may be more difficult to spot.
If companies are aware that there are email scams doing the rounds, they will usually update their customers through their social media streams.
If you’re still not sure, you can check with the company directly – either select a new browser and go to their homepage, or if you have been contacted by phone, end the call and then ring the usual customer service number (this can be found on the company’s homepage or the back of your bank card) from another phone. Remember that companies will welcome you reporting any scams so they can advise their other customers.
Be careful online – make sure the only person spending your money is you!