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Students told to be on guard amid fresh fraudster attack on loans

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Weeks before the start of a new academic year, students are being told to remain vigilant amid reports of a new wave of phishing emails from fraudsters targeting their first loan instalments.

According to the Student Loans Company (SLC) the new emails, which claim to be sent from Student Finance England (SFE), claim that failure to respond with personal information updates will see students ‘lose or delay’ their September finance payment.

In addition to not disclosing any details or responding to the email, the SLC is warning students to avoid clicking the link contained within it, as they risk installing malware on their systems.

Since the academic year 2012/13 SLC’s Counter Fraud Service claims to have prevented fraud losses totalling over £65m. In just the last three September’s alone, SFE’s dedicated Counter Fraud and Security teams have prevented over £1.5m of student’s initial maintenance payments being stolen through ‘phishing’ scams aimed primarily at freshers.

“We want to remind customers that we will never request a customer’s personal or banking details by email or text message,” says Fiona Innes, head of counter fraud services at the SLC.

“Anyone who receives a scam email about student finance should send it to us immediately at phishing@slc.co.uk, as this allows us to close the site down and stop students being caught out,” she adds.

Tips to identify phishing emails

The SLC has the following tips for students to help them identify rogue emails:

  1. Be suspicious of any requests for personal or financial information. SLC or SFE will never ask you to confirm your bank details or login information by email.
  2. Phishing emails are often sent in bulk and are unlikely to contain both your first and last name; they commonly start, “Dear Student”.
  3. Check the quality of the communication – misspelling, poor punctuation and bad grammar are often tell-tale signs of phishing.
  4. “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.