Keeping your money safe and staying scam-aware

24 September 2021

As maintenance loan payments for the start of term are being disbursed, it’s important to remember fraudsters often can target students with bogus phishing emails and text messages this time of year.

Cartoon picture of man dressed in all black climbing out of a sliced open bank card

Student Finance have a specialist team to stop scammers in their tracks, but you as students are ultimately the best and first line of defence.

Spotting a phishing or scam email, SMS or any type of fraudulent communication isn’t always easy, but Student Finance have some fraud facts to help:

  1. Keep an eye out for any emails, phone calls or SMS messages you think are suspicious, especially around the time you’re expecting a payment.
  2. Scam emails are often sent in bulk and are unlikely to contain both your first and last name; they commonly start, ‘Dear Student’ so be on guard if you see one like this.
  3. Check the quality of the communication. Misspelling, poor punctuation, and bad grammar are often tell-tale signs of phishing.
  4. Don’t feel panicked into replying immediately. Scammers use phrases like ‘failure to respond in 24 hours will result in your account being closed’ to convey a sense of urgency and get you to reply without thinking it through.
  5. Think before you click. If you receive an email or SMS that contains a suspicious link try hovering over it to check that it goes where it’s supposed to. If you’re in doubt - don’t risk it! Go directly to that webpage rather than clicking on a potentially dangerous link.
  6. Scammers use a variety of methods to get students to pay money or share their personal details. These can include the use of fraudulent phone calls, social media posts, and direct messaging on digital platforms. If you are unsure, use official phone numbers from the webpage (not the number from the email or texts you’ve received), your Student Finance online account, or official Student Finance communication channels to verify the contact you have received is genuine.

UCL has lots more advice online to help you protect yourself from Fraud and Scams. If you have any questions the Student Funding Advice team can be contacted by logging a query on askUCL.