Universities in the UK are set to go back soon, which means that, over the next few weeks, the Student Loans Company (SLC) will pay more than £2 billion to two million students.
SLC has reminded students to be vigilant and aware of phishing text messages and scam emails and phone calls, as fraudsters use this period of time to scam students. The company has also offered tips to help students understand how fraudsters may operate, and how they can stay safe.
How to avoid student scams?
Students have been encouraged to check the quality of communication, as misspelling and incorrect punctuation and grammar are often signs of phishing. Scam emails and texts are often sent in bulk, so be alert if you receive a message which begins with a greeting such as ‘dear student.’
Scammers will often try to convey a sense of urgency in their messages, so may send messages which include ‘failure to respond in 24 hours will result in your account being closed.’ Don’t panic. Instead use official phone numbers, your online account, and official communication channels to verify whether or not the messages you have received are genuine.
Bernice McNaught, Executive Director, Repayments and Customer Compliance at the Student Loans Company, said that as starting university (or moving back) is a stressful time, it is easy for students to drop their guard. However, they must remain mindful over online scams and fraudulent phishing.
Can social media impact scams?
It is important to be aware of any information you share about yourself on social media. If fraudsters have access to information such as your name, date of birth, customer reference number, course information, or your current or previous addresses, they may be able to impersonate you online and over the phone.
‘Unfortunately, digital scams, phishing and identity theft have become an everyday part of modern life, and scammers are all too aware that the three student finance payment periods in September, January and April each year are a prime time for them to try to trick students,’ McNaught said.
Fortunately, students can keep their account safe by following SLC’s ‘simple tips.’ The Counter Fraud teams at SLC ‘work to keep on top of the constantly evolving digital scams,’ to support students who ‘may be in danger of losing their funds to fraudsters.’
SLC is a non-profit making government-owned organisation, responsible for administering loans and grants to students in colleges and universities in the UK. It is an executive non-departmental public body which is sponsored by the Department for Education.