Student loan fraud warning to freshers

Freshers are being a warned that the amount of information they share online could lead to them becoming victims of fraud.An online survey by the Student Loan Company (SLC) has revealed that more than half incoming students will invite new people they meet to become friends on Facebook, with two thirds of those publishing details online that could be used by criminals.

Over 70% of respondents indicated they would publish their date of birth online, with others happy to publish their phone number or relationship status online. This is despite 49% of respondents admitting they had not met all their Facebook friends in person.

A further two in five were willing to share their email address, leaving them vulnerable to online ‘Phishing’ scams. That is, the practice of sending emails asking for personal information by pretending  to be from a company or bank, with the aim of obtaining credit card or bank details.

Males were shown to be more vulnerable to student finance fraud than females, as they were more likely to allow anyone to access their profile and make their personal details public.

Heather Laing, Fraud Manager at the Student Loan Company, said: “Freshers are often managing their finances for the first time by themselves when they start university and we want them to make sure they’re keeping their personal and financial information safe, especially online.

“We monitor student loan ‘phishing’ very closely and close phishing sites down as soon as students alert us to them, to protect other students.”

She added: “Students are often targeted at the three main instalment dates in September, January and April and they need to work with us to ensure their identity and financial details are protected and not compromised.”

In the 2011-12 academic year, over 1600 students were targeted by online fraudsters.

The Student Loan Company has partnered with ‘Get Safe Online’ to produce an online ‘Phishing Guide’ so students can better protect themselves against fraudulent emails.

The guide, and other tips on how to deal with suspicious emails can be found on the Student Loan Company’s website.