Students are being warned to remain vigilant over the latest phishing scam – which is targeting them with professional looking emails purportedly from the Student Loans Company (SLC).
We frequently discuss fraudsters methods – whether it’s fake card readers, the language used to scam us or even the psychological tricks used to get us to part with our money, but this is the first time we’ve seen university students directly targeted by criminals.
The supposedly genuine SLC emails inform applicants that their account has been suspended because their details are out of date. All students have to do to rectify the matter is click a link in the email and input the correct data – data that can then be used by fraudsters looking to steal their identity.
This means that, armed with the student’s address, date of birth and bank account details, criminals can apply for loans and purchase goods on credit. It’s a freebie for the fraudster, but a headache with serious consequences for students.
Not only is that potentially going to cost the student, but it’ll also obliterate their credit rating in the future. Most people who find their identity has been stolen only discover it when they receive a bill they don’t recognise or have their credit applications declined, apparently for no good reason.
The Student Loans Company has stated, in no uncertain terms, that these messages are fake and that students needed to be vigilant.
Action Fraud, which bills itself as the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre and run by officers in the City of London Police, encouraged students to stay wary. They said it was clear that these emails were being sent to coincide with the new university year – i.e. it’s an opportunist attack.
The advice they offer students, however, is applicable to anyone uncertain of an email’s veracity. In short, do not click on any links in unknown emails, and remain suspicious of any messages that request sensitive data, including bank details and account passwords.
They also suggested that students check emails for spelling mistakes or random capital letters in the middle of words. These, Action Fraud pointed out, were designed to allow fraudsters to circumvent current email spam filters (the rightful place for these fraudulent emails).
News of the SLC email scam follows on from a recent study by fraud prevent group Cifas, who warned of ‘epidemic levels’ of identity theft across the country. Their data shows that, while those aged between 30 and 40 are most likely to have their identity stolen, the number of those aged under 21 who found themselves victims of ID theft was growing.
Recent graduates would, of course, be part of the 21-30 year old age group who saw the biggest increase in identity theft, compared to the year before.
There are currently no details of how many students have fallen for the ruse, but the scam just goes to show that even those who grew up in the internet-age of phishing scams can still be susceptible. Stay vigilant, folks.