During freshers there is so much going on, from trying to go out every night, to making loads of friends, and actually making it to lectures. But sometimes in the midst of dodging freshers flu, dodging the scammers is easily forgotten. The Student Loans Company (SLC) has warned that students are often vulnerable to phishing scams. This is because it’s well known that they’re guaranteed large sums of money entering their accounts throughout the year. Gov.uk reports that ‘in the last two academic years alone, SLC’s dedicated Customer Compliance teams have prevented £850,000 from being phished from students’ loans.’. With this in mind, we thought we’d share some tips on how to avoid being scammed at freshers.

1. Keep an eye out for any suspicious emails, phone calls or SMS messages

suspicious email
Source: IT Pro

This is especially important to remember around the time that your loan drops (so the next few days). It’s likely that these emails or texts will include a link for you to click which will then take you to a site asking you to fill out details. Do not follow these links! A really common scam at the moment, is a text allegedly from Royal Mail asking you to pay postage for a parcel, which results in a large sum of money being taken from your account.

2. Scam emails are sent out in bulk so are unlikely to contain your full name

Look out for emails that start with ‘Dear student’ rather than ‘Dear *insert full name*’. Avoid following instructions or clicking any links from emails that begin like this. It is likely that a genuine email would include both your first name and surname.

3. Check the quality of communication in the message

quality of email
Source: Call centre helper

Usually, phishing emails have incorrect spellings and bad grammar, which wouldn’t be allowed in communication from official businesses contacting you. Therefore, the quality of communication is a tell-tale sign in freshers scam emails.

4. Scam emails often have a time limit on your response

As a way of panicking the recipient, scammers will probably include a time limit on when you can respond by. This makes you more likely to respond because of the anxiety caused by a threat of drastic action to whatever it is at risk.

5. ‘Think before you click’

Gov.uk advises that freshers should think before they click to avoid falling for a scam link and giving away personal information. A good technique is to hover over the link to see if it actually goes where it is supposed to!

think before you click
Image source: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Other scams to look out for

Identity theft is also a rather prevalent scam that freshers need to avoid, according to Gov.uk. They explain that ‘identity theft happens when fraudsters access enough information about a person’s identity… to impersonate them online and over the phone.’. With this in mind, students should be careful what information they share online and on social media. The biggest risk is students’ information being used to access their student finance account to impersonate them and divert loan payments into another account.

With all of this information in mind, make sure to keep your personal details safe over the next few weeks (and beyond) as the maintenance loan lands in your bank account. As well as this, follow all the tips to screen for dodgy scam emails to keep your loan where it belongs this year.