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Top 5 Student Scams To Avoid

It’s often assumed that students are the least vulnerable when it comes to financial scams.

After all, we’re supposedly the tech-savvy ones that our grandparents always turn to for advice on how to use their mobile phones - and we’ve seen a ton of phishing emails in our (albeit short) lifetime!

However, us students have also lost millions at the hands of fraud and cybercrime over recent years.

According to UK Finance, criminals successfully stole £1.2 billion through financial scams in 2018. With this in mind, here are some of the top financial scams to be mindful of in 2019. 

1. TV licensing fraud emails

Earlier this year, we saw a huge increase in TV licence scam emails. Action Fraud said the emails increased significantly month on month at the start of 2019, and the emails are incredibly realistic.

The fake emails are designed to appear as legitimate as possible, directing recipients to an equally as realistic website.

It is designed to steal your personal and financial information, with victims reporting losses of up to £830,000 earlier this year.

However, it’s important to be aware that TV Licensing will never ask for your personal or financial details over email or online - and the email is most definitely a scam.

2. Investment schemes

Boiler-room investment scams have promised investors impressive returns but have instead delivered big losses.

The Wolf of Wall Street film warned us of such scams in 2013, but they’re still scamming investors in 2019. 

You might have received a call from a ‘once in a lifetime investment opportunity’ promising you 40% returns on your investment - at least, this is the most recent of its kind!

Boiler room fraudsters are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, so any investments you hand over you might not see ever again.

It’s also common for more ‘legitimate’ investment scams to be mis-sold. If you’ve invested in a legitimate product but it’s too complicated for you, or the investment risks weren’t properly explained, you may have also been a victim of investment mis-selling.

3. Pensions scams

You might not be worried about your pension just yet, but young people and students can be a victim of a pension scam just as much as elderly people. If you’re paying into a pension, then you could also be vulnerable.

There are lots of pension investment schemes out there promising a great opportunity towards your pension savings, and with low interest rates, many people are choosing to take the risk.

Even if you’re not yet paying into your pension, it’s important to be aware of such scams for the future. Who knows, you could even help your parents or grandparents identify such scams.

Thankfully, companies like Expert Pension Claims can help you claim compensation at the hands of investment or pension mis-selling scams.

4. Fake freebies

As students, we’re often the victim of fake freebie scams. Who doesn’t love a good freebie?

There are many sites out there promising free products in exchange for card details.

Although you’ll be told you won’t be charged for the free products, you may be signed up to expensive monthly subscription costs that are difficult to get out of. Some students have even lost £100 a month!

It’s important to not get carried away with the idea of freebies and always be mindful of handing your card details over online.

5. HMRC phishing emails

Phishing emails are not a new phenomenon, but (believe it or not) UK citizens are still highly affected by them in 2019.

A phishing email will often come from someone posing as an official institution, such as your bank or building society.

We’ve become pretty good at spotting phishing emails over recent years, but unfortunately, scammers have also upped their game in making the email appear legitimate.

More often than not, the emails are identical to official emails and the ‘from’ email address is the only tell-tale sign.

A recent student phishing scam has seen a wave of HMRC emails offering big tax refunds, but it’s important to note that HMRC (and your bank) will never ask you to reveal personal details over your email.

Top tip: always check the sender email address. At first glance, the email might be from ‘HM Revenue and Customs’, but a simple click on this will display a bizarre email address containing random letters and numbers