Scams to Avoid at University
You’ve just started Uni, and you’ve got lots of money to spend. Your loan lands and maybe you’re the richest you’ve ever been. Unreal. Easy as that. Sadly, that makes you a bit of a target for scammers. With the rise of online shopping and online banking, scammers are finding new ways to target vulnerable students, however savvy you think you may be, there’s always a risk.
Whether it’s a fake job offer, a phishing email, or even the opportunity to get some free chocolate, scams can threaten your personal information and even drain your bank account. We found some of the most common scams to be aware of to help you avoid any troubles, so you can focus on your studies and enjoy Uni without worrying about financial fraud.
How To Avoid Getting Scammed
Scammers and fraudsters are clever and pretty ruthless to be honest. They’ll do anything they can to get hold of your personal details, or worse, your money. But there are ways you can protect yourself.
How Do Fraudsters Contact You?
- Fake Telephone Calls: fraudsters often call pretending to be from a bank and try to encourage you to share your personal details: PIN, mobile banking and card reader codes.
- Fake Emails: fraudsters send fake emails pretending to be from a trusted organisation or bank, to encourage you to share your personal details.
- Text or WhatsApp Message: fraudsters send texts or WhatsApp messages pretending to be from a trusted organisation or someone you know, in the hope of tricking you into giving away. your personal and security information
Stay Protected From Scams
- Be super careful about who you give your personal details to
- Never send money to someone you don’t know or trust
- Your bank or the police will never ask for your bank login details, PIN or passwords.
- The bank or police also will never ask for you to transfer funds
What Types of Scams Should I Watch Out For?
Scammers are always coming up with new and inventive ways to deceive people out of their hard-earned money. From phishing emails to investment scams, it’s important to be aware of the various types of scams out there. Read on to learn more about the popular types of scams you need to watch out for.
Banking Fraud & Scams
Did you know a fraudulent bank transaction happens every 15 seconds in the UK? That’s pretty crazy. When you’re already reduced to eating beans on toast every day to get you through your Uni term, the last thing you need is even less beans.
On a serious note, you might receive calls, emails or text messages from fraudsters who are imitating your bank. These scammers might suggest your account is at risk, or you are having problems with your standard bank activity, and they may impersonate a bank employee to encourage sharing personal details.
Remember, your bank will never ask for you to transfer funds, or ask for any login details, your PIN or password.
Do not respond to any emails or messages you have received from ‘your bank’. It’s always best to ring your bank directly, via the contact details listed on your bank’s official website. Never use any contact info listed in the emails or messages you receive.
If you think you might have fallen for any fraud or scams, and you are worried someone might have access to your account, content your bank or building society immediately. Make contact if you have had your card or security details lost or stolen, your bank statements show unusual transactions, or your card or account has reached its limit or gone into overdraft when you weren’t expecting it. Again, using the contact systems noted on your bank’s website.
Rental & Landlord Fraud
As if looking for a new place to live isn’t stressful enough, scammers are now hot on your tails due to the larger amounts of money being transferred during property rentals and purchases. Fake landlords may advertise on Google, Gumtree, Facebook or anywhere else you might be looking for a new place.
Beware of being encouraged to make deposits up front to reserve a property or prove your eligibility to rent. Also beware of potential landlords proposing you submit your deposit in anything other than a Protected Deposit Scheme. This is shady behaviour from the off.
Rent fraud is painfully, pretty common! Renters are tricked into paying an upfront fee to rent a property, when in fact the property doesn’t even exist, or is already being rented by someone else.
Do your research, and make sure you know your tenancy rights. Read through all the contracts and paperwork provided, and consider all points to make sure you aren’t signing up to something dodgy.
University Scams & Fraud
Tuition Fee Scams
You might be contacted about paying your tuition fees, possibly stating that you have a late payment, or that a discount has been applied to your account and you only have to pay a certain amount of the sum.
These are often convincing, but unusual. Remember if you have taken out a Tuition Fee Loan, Student Finance will always look after paying your tuition fees to your University. You don’t have to worry about anything overdue or unpaid. If you didn’t go for a tuition fee loan, and you are looking after fee payments yourself, content your uni’s finance and fees department directly, via the contact details on their website. It’s always best to double check things separately, away from any email or messages you have received.
Student Loan Repayment Scams
Similar to a tuition fees scam, fraudsters may pretend to be the Student Loans Company, requesting loan repayments. If you’re still a uni student, you will not be required to start repaying your loan until after you graduate.
Even when you do graduate you don’t need to worry about paying this back yourself, as your employer will deduct repayments from your monthly wages (double check your pay slips). If you are unsure about when exactly you are required to start making repayments, contact Student Finance so you can be sure.
Scholarships & Financial Aid Scams
Some fraudsters may pose as financial aid or a scholarship organisation requiring you to share personal details to complete funding payments. If you haven’t applied to any aid or scholarship programmes and you aren’t expecting anything like this, it’s save to presume this is a little scammy.
The only people that should be contacting you about financial aid is your University, and they likely won’t ask for your personal details as this is already on file, from your Uni applications. If you’re not sure, just give your Uni a call. As always, double checking is better than losing big time.
More Scans That’ll Catch You Out
If you’re looking for a job while you’re at Uni, make sure you apply using a legitimate website. Fraudsters might entice you with big pay opportunities, or no experience necessary jobs. They might require you to make an upfront payment to log you on their system. This is not normal practise, so be wary of these setups. Keep an eye out for companies that do not have an actual location. If you’re unsure, double check on Google, or even wander past the place.
When buying Freshers Tickets make sure you purchase from a legitimate ticket sales website. Steer clear from random salespeople on the internet that claim to be promoters. You don’t want to waste your money on tickets that you’re not going to receive.
Stick to using trusted ticket buying platforms like Eventbrite, Fatsoma or Skiddle. Most ticketed freshers event promoters will offer tickets here, and keeps you safe in your purchase.
It’s also worth having a good search through event details to be sure the event you’re paying for is legit. Scammers often create fake events, so check reviews or if many others have signed up as attending the event.
Free Trial Scams – Which Aren’t Actually Free
We all love a freebie. Free trials are the best way to save money on what you love. Yep, you guessed it. Scammers love it too. Do your research and make sure any free trials you’re interested in are legit, and are actually free. Double check cancellation policies, to make sure you aren’t locked into anything for a long period of time. It can be pretty hard to suss out what’s what though.
You’ll often be required to provide payment details in order to access a free trial, and this lead to payments coming out of your account as soon as the trial ends. It’s made even harder by the fact, huge websites seem a bit sneaky with the way their free trials work. Plenty of people might miss when their free trial of Amazon Prime ends, and they now end up paying for it.
Cadbury Easter Eggs Scam
You might be wondering why we’re talking about Cadbury’s on a money article. Well the kings of Easter Eggs have warned their customers of a recent WhatsApp scam going around, which offers customers a free Easter chocolate basket. Cadbury have confirmed this is “not genuine”.
Merseyside Police have also issued a warning about the scam. They are urging people to avoid clicking on any links contained in the WhatsApp message as it was an attempt to “gain access to your personal details”.
The phishing scam where Criminals have created the phishing scam to appear like a genuine Cadbury’s communication, in order to get a customer to click on the link to a fake website and input their details or see viruses installed on their device.
As always, consider carefully before clicking any links you unexpectedly receive via email or message. We know it’s hard to turn down free chocky, but it’s an attempt to steal your personal information, so steer clear of this one.
Tips & Tricks for Student Living
So now you know the scams to avoid while at Uni, and to make sure you’re not signing up for anything you don’t like the sound of. If you’re looking for more advice on student living, check out our Student Advice Hub.