Scammers may try to trick students into giving away personal and financial information by sending fake emails and texts, or calling and pretending to be from SLC, Student Finance England (SFE), or other legitimate organisations.
SLC say they will never ask students to provide their personal or financial information via email or text message. If a student receives a suspicious message, they should report it to SLC immediately by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the dedicated hotline on 0300 100 0059.
SLC or SFE don’t provide any services through WhatsApp and will never initiate contact with a student through social media channels to discuss their application or student finance entitlement.
If a student receives a message via social media purporting to be from SLC or SFE they should ignore it, as official communications about entitlement to students will be through email and letter. If a customer receives a communication from SFE that they are unsure of, they should log into their online account to verify if it’s genuine.
“It’s important that students are aware of the risks posed by phishing and online scams, especially as the second maintenance loan payment date approaches in January,” said David Wallace, Chief Customer Officer at the Student Loans Company.
“Scams have become more sophisticated and can be very convincing, but students should always be cautious of unsolicited communications asking for their personal or financial information. We encourage students to contact our dedicated hotline if they have any doubts or concerns.”
Students can protect themselves against phishing and online scams by taking the following steps:
- Check the quality of the communication – misspelling, poor punctuation and bad grammar are often tell-tale signs of phishing.
- 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.
- Scam emails and text messages are often sent in bulk to many people at the same time and are unlikely to contain both your first and last name. These commonly start – ‘Dear Student’ – so be on guard if you see one like this.
- Messages that convey a sense of urgency are also unlikely to be genuine – for example ‘failure to respond in 24 hours will result in your account being closed’.
- Think before you click. If you receive an email or SMS that contains a link that you’re not sure of, then hover over it to check that it goes where it’s supposed to. If you’re still in any doubt don’t risk it, always go direct to the source rather than clicking on a potentially dangerous link.
- Scammers can use a variety of methods to try get students to pay money or share their personal details, including the use of fraudulent phone calls, social posts and direct messaging on digital platforms. If you are suspicious of being contacted, always use official phone numbers, your online account and official communication channels to verify the contact you received is genuine.
- Students should also be mindful of the information that they share about themselves on social media, and elsewhere online, to help guard against identity theft. Identity theft happens when fraudsters access enough information about a person’s identity, such as their name, date of birth, customer reference number, course information or their current or previous addresses to impersonate them online and over the phone.
- Check out our guide to identifying a phishing scam at www.gov.uk/guidance/phishing-scams-how-you-can-avoid-them
To help protect students from scams, students in England will receive an SMS from Student Finance England (SFE) if a change has been made to their banks details, and asking them to confirm the change. If a customer hasn’t changed their details but receives a message, they should log into their online account to review their information.
There is also a range of additional advice and information on recognising and avoiding scams from Take Five, a national campaign aimed at stopping fraud: Take Five – To Stop Fraud