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Protect your money: A guide against phishing scams

Person holding a phone in one hand and bank card in the other

It's not unusual to find yourself working alongside your studies. Nearly 10% of students work full-time and 34% part-time. As you may be navigating tax systems, or paying fees for the first time, it is important to be cautious as criminals are ready to take advantage of any unfamiliarity with processes.

Phishing is a type of scam highlighted by both HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Student Loan Company (SLC) to be targeting students. Phishing is where attackers trick individuals into disclosing sensitive information, usually to get access to money.

These scams might offer fake tax refunds or say that your maintenance loan is ready. The messages typically include a link that will take you to a page asking you to update your bank details. HMRC do not offer tax refunds via text or email and SLC will never ask you to update your bank details via hyperlink.

In a recent scam, fraudsters have been impersonating universities and making calls to students. The fraudulent practice of making phone calls is known as ‘vishing’. The callers will advise you that you have a residence or tuition fee payment due. They may provide information such as your residence, or name to convince you that they are a trusted source and get you to offer bank details or make direct fraudulent payments to them.

Tuition and residence fees must be paid through Global Pay for Students using the methods listed on the how to pay my fees webpage. King’s will never request your card or bank details by phone or email.

How can I avoid being a victim of a scam?

1. Protect your information

Remember, your information is valuable. Scammers could be after your bank account access or personal data. Never share bank details or sign in details and always think twice before sharing any of your personal information that could be used to access your accounts. This includes your government gateway details, used to login to HMRC and student finance details, which can give access to your records, including sensitive banking info. Keep them safe!

2. Spot the warning signs 

If someone contacts you claiming to be from HMRC or SLC and demands an urgent money transfer or your personal information, don't panic. This could be a red flag. HMRC and SLC will never threaten you over the phone with arrest . If you encounter similar threats, it's likely a scam.

3. Report anything suspicious

If you receive a call, text, or email that seems suspicious, report it directly to HMRC, SLC or King's Credit Control through their official emails or websites.

Remember, staying informed and vigilant is the best defence. By following these steps, you can protect yourself and your hard-earned money from falling into the hands of criminals.

This article is based on HMRC’s guidelines to help students recognise and avoid tax phishing scams. To learn about other scams and for more information on how to avoid them, read our article on Common scams & fraud. The Student Loans Company has also issued new advice for students to help you recognise fraudulent messaging.

If you have been the victim of a scam, you should report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. You can also seek advice and support from King’s. For more information, read our article I think I've been targeted by a scam, what should I do?