Student loan fraud warning

First-time university students are being warned that revealing too much information on social networking sites could result in their student loans being stolen by fraudsters.

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The Student Loans Company – the non-departmental public body that administers provision of student loans and grants by the government in the UK – says fraudsters are targeting first-year students who reveal too much information on social networking sites such as Facebook.

A survey of more than 1,100 university applicants revealed that many will be inviting new people they meet to be Facebook friends. Of those, two-thirds reveal personal details that could help criminals.

Fraudsters can hack into someone’s bank account through phishing. This is the method of sending convincing looking emails that ask for specific information unique to the account holder. This process begins with an email, which the survey revealed that two in five students will give out.

The survey also showed that across England males are at higher risk of student finance fraud than females as they are significantly more likely to make their profile public, accept anyone as a 'friend' and be less vigilant with personal details.

In the last academic year, fraudsters attempted to access money from over 1,600 students.

Heather Laing, Fraud Protection and Detection Manager at the Student Loans 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. 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."

The Student Loans Company says it will never:

• Ask you to update your bank details.
• Ask you to verify your account details
• Ask you to answer combinations on the same screen i.e. Your Customer Reference Number and Password on the same screen.
• Provide you with a choice of secret question. We will only ever ask you the question you gave us.
• Ask you to update items such as date of birth or provide your email address password.

For further information visit the Student Loans Company website.

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