Students warned as university loans become target of new scam
Student loans have become the target of a new scam that encourages the UK's university-goers to surrender sensitive information.
New and returning university students are being warned against a scam which aims to collect personal information from people applying for loans ahead of the upcoming academic year.
Action Fraud have explained that a phishing email, which claims to be from the Student Loans Company (SLC), has been sent out to students taking out loans in the UK. This comes at the time many students are expecting their loans to come in so they can pay for accommodation.
The scammers appear to mainly be attacking new higher education students, although returning students are at risk too.
The message claims that their account has been suspended due to incomplete information. The student borrower is then urged to click a link and enter their personal details.
If the user does click on the link, they will be directed to a fraudulent website and asked to share identifying and personal information.
The SLC has warned this is fake, and urged everyone to be vigilant. The City of London Police, which runs Action Fraud, has also stressed that students should be wary.
Andy Fyfe, a detective with the London Police, said:
As the new university year begins, we are urging people to be especially cautious of emails that request personal details. The scammers have timed this attack with the start of the academic year.
What signs should you look out for?
An executive at the SLC has confirmed that they will never ask you to provide personal or financial information over text or email.
Action Fraud posted a screenshot of the fake email (below) on their Twitter account. Don't be fooled by the official-looking email address – this is still a scam!
Other ways to become scam-savvy are to:
- Look out for emails containing spelling mistakes or capital letters in the middle of sentences as scammers do this to circumvent spam filters
- Be suspicious of emails which ask for sensitive information like passwords or bank details. If in doubt, do not provide any details at all
- Avoid following links or opening attachments in emails you do not recognise
- Delete emails you are suspicious of
- Contact your bank immediately if you believe you have been the victim of a scam
In this case, the SLC also advises that if you receive a scam email, you should send it on to [email protected] and Action Fraud for investigation.
Fraud is on the rise…
Fraud prevention group, Cifas, have warned that identity theft is reaching “epidemic levels”. In fact, their recent study shows that between 2016 and 2017, there was an increase in identity fraud in every single age group.
Those in the age bracket of 31–40 experience the most identity fraud, while the figures for those aged 41–50 was also worryingly high. Under-21s (the age group where most people first attend university) were the least likely to be tricked by fraud, although the number of cases still rose.
The age bracket of 21–30, during which most people graduate, saw the biggest increase in ID theft in the last 12 months.
All in all, this isn't something worry about – just to be vigilant about. It is important to know how to spot scam emails, so read the 'what signs should you look out for' section again.
If you're ever in doubt, do not click on or do anything with an email you are uncertain about. Delete it immediately if you can. If it is claiming to be from a company you recognise or even one you’re expecting an email from, look up their official phone number (not one given in the email) and call them instead.
Read our 11 money scams to watch out for and make sure those con artists don't get the better of you.