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Students targeted by fraudsters in loan scam

Tom Allingham
12 August 2016

Fraudsters target students
iStock.com/weerapatkiatdumrong
Students are being warned not to respond to any
emails requesting personal or financial details 

Students across the country are being targeted by fraudsters in a scam focusing on student finance, the Student Loans Company has reported.

Waves of phishing emails purporting to be from Student Finance England have been sent out to students, claiming that a failure to respond will result in either a loss or delay of their September student finance payment.

The email requests that students respond with personal information updates. The Student Loans Company (SLC) has warned against doing this, also urging students to avoid clicking on the link featured in the email as they risk installing malware on their systems.

The scam is likely to particularly affect freshers who are starting university for the first time and have no experience of the student finance process. However, continuing students and their sponsors have also been targeted.

This is not the first time that students have been targeted in this way, with the scam regularly resurfacing when student loan instalments are due. In fact, we first reported on the problem over five years ago.

How to avoid getting scammed

Despite the scam taking several guises over the years, it is still relatively simple and easy to avoid becoming a victim of the fraudsters.

Fiona Innes, Head of Counter Fraud Services at the SLC, has reminded students that they "will never request a customer's personal or banking details by email or text message." Put simply, if you receive an email from someone asking for either of these pieces of information, do not provide them with it.

Ms Innes also urged students "to be mindful of the personal information about themselves they post online and on social media too."

For those still unsure about how to avoid the scam, the SLC have issued a series of additional tips to help identify phishing emails:

  • Check the grammar, punctuation and spelling of the email. Phishing emails are often less than perfect in this department, so a poorly written email could be a red flag!
  • Be wary of any urgent warnings. Threats that try to force you into a prompt response (e.g. 'Failure to reply within 2 days will result in the loss of your student loan') are another tell-tale sign of phishing emails.
  • Check who the email is addressed to. As phishing emails are usually sent out in bulk, they are unlikely to contain your first and last name. Instead, it will simply start with 'Dear Student', or something equally vague.

The SLC are asking anyone who receives a scam email about student finance to forward it to phishing@slc.co.uk, as this will allow them to close the site down and protect students.