Fraudsters are targeting students’ first loan instalments just weeks before thousands of students start the new academic year. The new wave of phishing emails have been reported to the Student Loans Company, claiming that failure to respond with personal information updates will see students ‘lose or delay’ their September student finance payment. The Student Loans Company is warning students not to disclose any details or respond to the email, which purports to be from Student Finance England. They should also avoid clicking the link contained within the email, as they risk installing malware on their systems. Fiona Innes, Head of Counter Fraud Services at the Student Loans Company, said: “Online fraudsters are aware that freshers are starting university for the first time next month and are targeting them, continuing students and their sponsors with emails and texts requesting personal and banking details to access their finance. We have had several reports of this phishing email already. Phishing emails are sent in batches so there will be more in circulation.
Since Academic Year 2012/2013 SLC's Counter Fraud Services have prevented fraud losses totalling over £65 million.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.
The emails students receive generally pose as Student Finance and may use SFE's branding images.
The Company has the following tips for customer to help them identify phishing emails:
• Be suspicious of any requests for personal or financial information. 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 name; 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.