Suffolk students in loan scam scare

STUDENTS are being warned by Suffolk Trading Standards against a devious student loan scam currently in circulation.

An email claiming to be from Student Finance England or the Student Loans Company, asks for personal information, including bank account details, in exchange for student loan payments. With a subject heading ‘Urgent Verify Payment Details’, it also asks people to click on a link that looks like it goes to a secure, Directgov page.

In reality, this actually diverts people to another website set up by the people behind the scam who are attempting to steal usernames and passwords.

Phishing scams are common around the three main student loan installment payment dates in January, April and September. Trading Standards is urging students to remain on guard and never to pass their details on to an unknown source.

Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Protection said; “Sadly, scammers exploit the fact that there is naturally an increase in correspondence with Student Finance England at the start of term.

We would strongly advise students to remain vigilant, not to respond to any suspicious emails and to call Consumer Direct immediately so that Trading Standards officers can liaise with Student Finance England to investigate the source.”

Student Finance England and the Student Loans Company will:

 Never ask you to update your bank details.

 Never ask you to verify your account details

 Never ask you to click a link always type the address yourself: www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance

 Never ask you to answer combinations on the same screen i.e. Your Customer Reference  Number and Password on the same screen.

 Never provide you with a choice of secret question. We will only ever ask you the question you gave us.

 Never ask you to update items such as date of birth or provide your email address password.

 Robert Lister, Infozone Advisor at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) said; “Anyone considering applying for funding can seek advice from staff at the UCS Infozone, who provide step by step guidance and always use the official Directgov website to apply for loans.

“We have communicated the latest information about the current student loan scam to our students, and will ensure we liaise with Suffolk Trading Standards if any of our students receive any suspicious emails.”

It is vital to use a secure web site when submitting credit card details or other sensitive information. It is often the case that email details have been taken from a social networking site so Trading Standards is advising students to either avoid disclosing these details or ensure it is hidden on their page. It is also important to note that Student Finance England and the Student Loans Company never ask for bank details over email.

For further help and advice, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506

 

By Becky Whiting on February 3rd, 2012