SLC will pay out over £2billion to 2million students over the next few weeks and is reminding people to be vigilant. As payments come in to students, the company warns freshmen and returning students not to be pressured into giving out personal information or clicking on links in emails or text messages because they could install malware.
In the last three years alone, SLC’s dedicated customer compliance teams have prevented fraudsters from losing £1.2 million in student bank accounts. Teams of experts have a range of fraud methods and analysis to stop scammers in their tracks, but students should know that they are the best and first line of defense.
Spotting a phishing email or text message isn’t always easy, but the Student Loans Company has some scam information to help:
- Check the quality of communication – misspellings, poor punctuation and poor grammar are often telltale signs of phishing.
- Keep an eye out for suspicious emails, phone calls, or text messages, especially when you’re expecting payment.
- Fraudulent emails and text messages are often sent en masse to multiple people at the same time and are unlikely to contain both your first and last name. These usually start – “Dear Student” – so be on your guard if you see one like this.
- “If you don’t respond within 24 hours, your account will be closed” – these types of messages are designed to convey a sense of urgency in order to get a quick response.
- Think before you click. If you receive an email or text with a link you’re not sure about, hover over it to make sure it’s going where it’s supposed to. If you are still in doubt, do not take the risk, always go straight to the source rather than clicking on a potentially dangerous link.
- Scammers can use a variety of methods to try to trick students into paying money or sharing their personal information, including the use of scam phone calls, social messages and direct messaging on digital platforms . If you believe you have been contacted, always use official phone numbers, your online account, and official communication channels to verify that the contact you received is genuine.
- Students should also be careful about the information they share about themselves on social media and elsewhere online, to guard against identity theft. Identity theft occurs when fraudsters gain access to enough information about a person’s identity, such as their name, date of birth, customer reference number, course information, or current address. or previous to impersonate her online and over the phone.
- See our guide to identifying a phishing scam at www.gov.uk/guidance/phishing-scams-how-you-can-avoid-them
Bernice McNaught, Executive Director, Reimbursements and Client Compliance at Student Loans Company, said:
“It’s no surprise that at this time of year, students, especially freshmen, have a lot on their minds – getting to know classes and campuses, making new friends or explore new environments.
“With so much attention grabbing, it’s easy for students to let their guard down when it comes to online scams and phishing fraud. Unfortunately, digital scams, phishing and identity theft have become a part of modern life, and scammers are all too aware that the three student funding payment periods in September, January and April of each year are a privileged moment to try to deceive the students. .
“Keeping money in students’ pockets is a top priority for SLC. Our fraud teams strive to stay abreast of ever-evolving digital scams, in order to support students who are at risk of losing their funds to fraudsters. The first line of defense against fraudsters is always the students themselves. They can protect their account by following our simple tips. »
Customers in England should be aware that whenever their bank details are changed they will receive an SMS from Student Finance England (SFE) to confirm the change. If a customer has not changed their contact details but receives a message, they should log into their online account to review their information and also get in touch using an official phone number as they may be a victim of device theft. identity and future payments could be blocked. if they don’t.
There is also a range of additional tips and information for recognizing and avoiding scams from Take Five, a nationwide campaign to end fraud: Take Five – To Stop Fraud