Students in the south-east warned to be on the lookout for ‘phishing’ fraudsters

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With the advent of a new academic year, Student Finance England (SFE) is urging students – and especially freshers – across the South East to be security savvy online to protect themselves from scammers trying to steal their finance.

SFE, which pays maintenance loans and grants, is keen to make students at universities (including Brighton, Sussex, Oxford, Surrey, Reading, Southampton, Portsmouth and Kent) and Colleges (including Reading College and City College Brighton and Hove) in the area aware of the danger they face from online ‘phishing’ scams and is reminding them that they will never request a customer’s personal or banking details by email or text message.

Over the last three Septembers alone, Student Finance England’s dedicated Counter Fraud and Security teams have prevented over £1.5 million of students’ initial maintenance payments being stolen through ‘phishing’ scams aimed primarily at freshers.

To receive their initial payments, students need to sign and return their online declaration forms and enrol on their courses for their university or college to confirm their attendance. Online fraudsters know when students are receiving their funding and target them with emails and texts asking for personal and banking details which they can use to access their finance.

SFE has provided some ‘top tips’ for freshers to help them identify potential fraudulent emails:

Be suspicious of any requests for personal or financial information. The Student Loans Company (SLC) or Student Finance England (SFE) will never ask you to confirm your bank details or login information by email.

Phishing emails are often sent in bulk and are unlikely to contain both your first and last names; they commonly start, ‘Dear Student’.

Check the quality of the communication - misspelling, poor punctuation and bad grammar are often tell-tale signs of phishing

‘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.

Heather Laing, Head of Counter Fraud Services for SFE and SLC advises: “We care about our customers and want to make sure that they have the information they need to stop scammers in their tracks. As well as reminding students that we will never ask for their personal information via email, we also want to encourage them to think carefully about how much personal information they post online and on social media as this can make them vulnerable to this sort of attack by fraudsters.”

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