Apr 27

Common scams students should be wary of

Reading Time: 4 mins

With many of today’s scams being online, it can be difficult to identify them, which is why even internet savvy students can fall prey to these cons. But if you know what to look out for and are better informed of the common scams, you can make sure both your personal details and cash stay safe.


Phishing and Smishing

Phishing scam

While these words might sound like a load of nonsense, they can be lucrative scams for the people behind them. Often people receive emails from what appears to be a legitimate company, usually asking for their personal details or to reset their passwords by clicking on a link contained in the email. And this is how the phishers can gain access to bank accounts and personal information. Smishing is similar, yet the scam comes in the form of an SMS message instead of an email.

If you receive an email or text from what seems to be a legitimate company, it’s best not to click on any links and don’t reply to any texts until you have verified the source of the message. It’s a good idea to contact the real company to find out if they have tried to contact you in this way.

Last year, it appeared in the news that students were being contacted by what seemed to be the Student Loans Company. Students were receiving emails suggesting that they needed to re-enter their bank details in order to receive their loan payments.

One thing to look out for is that many of the scam emails and texts will not contain your full name. They may simply say “dear student” or “dear customer”. However, legitimate businesses will generally address you by your full name and they will never ask you reveal your details over email or text.

If in doubt, always contact the company to verify and you can report any email to ActionFraud.



Freebies scam

We can all be lured in with the promise of a freebie. But be careful, because not all of these so-called freebies are completely free. Companies can hook you with the freebie and before you know it, you’ve got money coming out of your account every month and you are signed up to a contract for a year.

Although it may not be fully categorised as a “scam”, often a free trial such as that with a streaming service requires you to enter your debit/credit card or bank details and when the trial is over they will automatically start to charge you. This is even the case with household brands such as Amazon.

Responsible companies should make it clear on their site that you will charged after a certain period if you fail to cancel. But you might find this information is in the terms and conditions and not clearly displayed. Just be wary that when a company asks for your credit card details with a free trial, then you should look out for what happens when your trial ends, and set a reminder date in your calendar to cancel your membership before you get charged.

Not all freebies require credit card details and there are plenty of genuine freebies around out there, you just have to search for them.


Money Laundering

money laundering

It seems to be becoming more common for students to fall prey to illegal money laundering. Sometimes criminals, disguised as students or employers, can offer you a “job” where you act as a middle man for a money laundering scheme. They may offer you a sum of money in return for receiving and then transferring a larger sum of money. While you might make money, you might also have your bank account cleaned out, leaving you with nothing. Not only that, you could also be put in jail! If this easy, incredibly well-paid job seems too good to be true, then it most likey is!


Fraudulent Websites


If there’s a brand or item that’s in demand or on trend, you will usually find there is an increase in fake products and websites. A fraudulent website will often mimic the legitimate one, with less savvy surfers unable to notice the difference. These websites can charge you for counterfeit or non-existent products, or even harvest your personal details.

One way to tell if a site is secure is if the address begins with https:// and not http://. Notice the ‘s’ at the end of the first one. This means the site is secure. But sometimes there are sites that will look secure but may have a slightly different address to the legitimate site, such as added “-” or “.” Very carefully check the domain name, as well as the logo, and things such as grammar in the text of the site – the real company is unlikely to have spelling mistakes on its site!


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