Student Advice Service – Money Matters

News from the Student Advice Service at the University of Brighton

Advert from the organisation we Fight Fraud showing a man who will feature in an interview warning students about the dangers of scams

How to protect yourself from scams – Money Week 2024

What is a scam?

Over 3 million people in England and Wales were victims of scams in the past year. Fraudsters are taking advantage of the cost-of-living crisis and our reliance on devices for communication. Such is the wide variety of scams circulating right now, we can’t cover all of them here but please do take some time to inform yourself – there are links to sign up for alerts below.

Sadly, students are targeted by fraudsters and this year many students, including some at Brighton, had their bank accounts wiped clean by a sophisticated scam.

Scams are not easily recognised as they come in many forms. Some examples of the latest scams in circulation include a Disney+ offer, fake energy grants, Evri impersonators, DVLA payment failure and Etsy sellers.

Fraudsters may contact you in person, knocking on your door or with a phone call. You might receive a text or email or social media post. Perhaps a letter or flier through your letterbox. The aim of the fraudsters is to gather your personal information and access your money.

How to protect yourself from scams

Inform yourself about the tactics used by fraudsters. There’s lots of helpful information online to help you recognise all manner of scams – here are some key things to look out for and advice on how to respond:

Phone scams

· a ‘spoof’ number is used, so it may appear as one of your trusted numbers

· the caller may already know some of your personal details

· after gaining your trust, they will ask for some personal/financial information

· they put pressure on you to act urgently

Action: hang up if you have any suspicions at all. Call the organisation direct, using a number you know to be genuine.

Email/phishing & social media scams

· doesn’t use your name

· sent from an unusual email address

· strong encouragement to click a link now (to avoid missing out on a time-limited offer, for example)

· spelling/grammar mistakes – increasing use of AI means these aren’t as common nowadays

Action: don’t reply or click on any links. Contact the organisation using an email address you know is correct. Forward the email to
Fraudulent text messages

· a ‘spoof’ number is used, so it may appear as one of your trusted numbers

· text sent outside of normal business hours

· urgent alert about security – maybe from your bank

· appeal from a family member asking you to send them money

· delivery company asking you to pay a fee before delivery can take place

Action: Don’t reply or click on links. Contact the sender direct to check it’s genuine. Forward the message for free to 7726

Scammers use psychological tactics to get you to act (hand over your details) urgently – they will use emotive language and will try to gain your trust. However genuine the caller/text/email may seem, this is the time to stop! Hang up the phone, resist clicking links and take some time to check out the validity of the contact. Remember that genuine service providers, universities, Student Finance, banks and the police will NEVER call asking you to transfer money or share personal financial details.

And if an offer seems too good to be true – it probably is!

Money Mules

A money mule is someone who lets someone else use their bank account to transfer money, often keeping a little bit for themselves. You may (unknowingly) be laundering criminal funds and this money could be used to fund serious organised crime. Sadly, some recruiters are students and will befriend you to gain your trust and then casually ask you to ‘look after’ some money for them in your bank account. Please don’t give your bank details or let a ‘friend’ use your bank account, however innocent it may seem. If you get caught, you could get a criminal record and even a prison sentence.

What to do if you are a victim of fraud

Despite our best efforts, many of us do fall victim to scams, me included. There is no shame or embarrassment around this – fraudsters are good at what they do and employ sophisticated tactics.

As soon as you become aware, you should:

· report to the police

· report to Action Fraud

· tell your bank

· contact us in the Student Advice Service

What support is available to victims of scams?

The effects of being scammed can be devastating and support is available

For emotional and practical support you can call Victim Support for free on 08 08 16 89 111

You may have lost money via a scam but also your phone may have been hacked, you may have handed over personal information or had ID stolen. Stop Think Fraud has excellent advice on how to deal with each of these issues

Our best defence is to educate ourselves on how fraudsters operate and stay informed. You can sign up for alerts  and subscribe to our Money Matters blog for regular updates

*SPECIAL EVENT* As part of National Student Money Week we are delighted to offer a FREE online session with We Fight Fraud as featured in the image attached to this blog post. This is on MS Teams. Please register for the webinar which is on Wednesday 6th March 11.15am – 12noon.

Student Advice Service

fraudmoney mulesscams

Helen Abrahams • March 5, 2024

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