Scam emails aimed at students' biggest annual loan instalments, warns company

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Students are being warned of a growing threat from scam emails targeting their last - and largest - loan instalments of the academic year.

The Student Loans Company has reported seeing an increase in scam emails and said it has had several scam websites closed down.

It said it is closely monitoring a new wave of phishing emails. It said the final student loan instalment in April is usually the largest that students receive for the year as it is intended to help cover the summer period.

Payments for students in England and Wales are made at the start of term in September, January and April.

Fiona Innes, head of counter fraud services at the Student Loans Company, said: "We want to remind customers that we will never request a customer's personal or banking details by email or text message."

She continued: "Online fraudsters are aware that students are receiving their funding this month and are targeting them and their sponsors with emails and texts requesting personal and banking details to access their finance.

"We want to remind students to stay vigilant with the details they provide online and to be mindful of the personal information about themselves they post online and on social media too."

The Student Loans Company said scam emails may contain branding images to make them appear legitimate.

To avoid such scams, it said students should take the following steps:

:: Be suspicious of any requests for personal or financial information. 

:: Phishing emails are often sent in bulk and commonly start: "Dear Student".

:: Check the quality of the communication - misspelling, poor punctuation and bad grammar are often tell-tale signs of phishing.

:: Scam messages with phrases such as "failure to respond in 24 hours will result in your account being closed," are designed to convey a sense of urgency to prompt a quick response.

:: Anyone who receives an email that they think is a scam should send it to phishing@slc.co.uk, as this allows websites to be closed down and stops students from being caught out.