Fraud warning from Student Loans Company as new academic year approaches
By: Maria Balboa Carbon
Last updated: Friday, 23 September 2022
In the coming weeks, around 2 million students in England will receive payments from the Student Loans Company (SLC). Unfortunately, scammers are aware of the three student finance payment periods in September, January and April each year, and they might try to trick students. Be careful not to disclose personal details or click on links in emails or text messages, as they could be installing malware.
In the last three years alone, the Student Loans Company's dedicated Customer Compliance team has stopped £1.2million from being lost to fraudsters from students’ bank accounts. The expert teams have a range of methods and fraud analytics to stop scammers in their tracks, but students need to know that they are the best and first line of defence.
Here are some fraud facts to help you spot a phishing email or SMS:
- Check the quality of the communication - misspelling, poor punctuation and bad grammar are often tell-tale signs of phishing.
- Keep an eye out for any emails, phone calls or SMS messages you think are suspicious, especially around the time when you’re expecting a payment.
- Scam emails and text messages are often sent in bulk to many people at the same time and are unlikely to contain both your first and last name. These commonly start - ‘Dear Student’ - so be on guard if you see one like this.
- ‘Failure to respond in 24 hours will result in your account being closed’ - these types of messages are designed to convey a sense of urgency to prompt a quick response.
- Think before you click. If you receive an email or SMS that contains a link that you’re not sure of, then hover over it to check that it goes where it’s supposed to. If you’re still in any doubt, don’t risk it and always go directly to the source rather than clicking on a potentially dangerous link.
- Scammers can use a variety of methods to try to get students to pay money or share their personal details, including fraudulent phone calls, social posts and direct messaging on digital platforms. If you are suspicious of being contacted, always use official phone numbers, your online account and official communication channels to verify the contact you received is genuine.
- Be mindful of the information you share on social media, and elsewhere online, to help guard against identity theft. Identity theft happens when fraudsters access enough information about a person’s identity (e.g. their name, date of birth, customer reference number, course information or current or previous addresses), to impersonate them online and over the phone.
- Check out the Government's guide to identifying a phishing scam.
Whenever your bank details are changed, you will receive an SMS from Student Finance England (SFE) to confirm the change. If you haven't changed your details but you receive a message, log into your online account to review your information and also get in contact using an official telephone number as you could be the victim of identity theft and future payments may be blocked if you don’t.
Check our expert tips to protect your identity online and find more information on how to protect yourself from online fraud on the Student Hub.
There is also a range of additional advice and information on recognising and avoiding scams from Take Five, a national campaign aimed at stopping fraud: Take Five - To Stop Fraud