Stay alert for scams and phishing
In our recent Money Week survey we asked you to tell us about any experience you may have of phishing, scams and fraud. We asked this question because we know that unfortunately students are actively targeted, particularly when student finance payments are due.
We want to raise awareness of the dangers of online scams and give you a few helpful tips when trying to identify probing emails, texts or pop ups as you can be targeted at any time, either directly or on mass via social media platforms etc.
The consumer site Which? have excellent advice on how to spot different scams from fake websites to cold callers and email phishing and you can sign up to their scam alert notifications which tell you about the latest scams doing the rounds. It is common for a particular scam to appear then disappear very quickly.
What is a scam?
What we’re talking about is someone trying to get access to your bank details or dupe you into paying for something which is not a legitimate transaction. Typical scams are messages you receive telling you that you need to resubmit a payment, you’re due a rebate or refund for something (a thing or a service), or you need to validate your bank details.
Phishing is the act of someone trying to extract sensitive information from you such as bank details, passwords, usernames when they are masquerading as an official business or company. A typical example would be getting an email, letter or text from HMRC or TV Licensing saying you need to give highly sensitive information by ‘click here’ or ‘reply by text’ or ‘open the attachment’
In short you should ignore messages that tell you to provide any personal, security or banking details unless you are making a purchase from a trusted source you know. Certainly none of the funding authorities such as SFE, SLC, Student Finance Wales and SAAS or any authentic bank would ever ask you to provide or confirm your personal data in this way. But this can be tricky as the modern scammers are very clever, by using logos we are familiar with and email addresses which look perfectly plausible.
How to protect yourself
As we all know from the recent uni email hack, it just takes one click for a whole organisation or individual’s electronic address book to be put at risk. Fortunately we do have pretty robust protection within the university, but accidents do happen.
If you use online or mobile banking, make sure you log off after making a transaction and use a safety lock on your phone. Change your passwords and pin regularly and don’t share these with other people. It may seem organised to write everything down and store it in your phone, but not all your passwords.
Sometimes the scammers start small and attempt to make a purchase using a minimal amount. If they get away it things can escalate and it may become harder to make a claim through the bank. This is one of the reasons we always tell students to check their bank accounts carefully on a regular basis to identify any unusual activity. Most of us are increasingly using contactless payments which means it is harder to account for every transaction, but most banks have apps which can help us keep track of our daily spending – good for the budget and for checking. Santander bank recently teamed up with MC Grindah to create some short films to raise awareness about scammers and fraud, check out MC Grindah’s Deadliest Dupes…….don’t get kurupted!! As for other excellent guidance and advice on phishing in general, have a look at Action Fraud UK
You can find practical guidance on how you can safeguard your student finance. This will also tell you what to do if you think you’ve received any communication that is suspicious, or you’re concerned about the safety of your account. If you have responded to a student finance phishing e-mail, you should change your account password asap and forward the phishing e-mail to Phishing@slc.co.uk
Let us reassure you, these incidents are in the minority and please don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed if this has happened to you. If you are aware of other scams, please contact Student Advice we can let other students know about it
Student Advice Service