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Scammers are targeting new university students by sending them emails claiming to be from the Student Finance England. The Student Loans Company has warned students not to be fooled by the phishing emails and texts, which ask them to update their personal information to receive payments.

If they do not, the messages say, they could “lose or delay” their first student finance payment due in September – but students could actually put their data at risk by responding to or clicking on links within the emails, the organisation has warned.

It said that by following the links included in the messages, students and their sponsors risk installing malware on their computers and mobile devices.

“Online fraudsters are aware that freshers are starting university for the first time next month and are targeting them, continuing students and their sponsors with emails and texts requesting personal and banking details to access their finance,” said Fiona Innes, head of counter fraud services at the Student Loans Company.

“We have had several reports of this phishing email already. Phishing emails are sent in batches so there will be more in circulation. We want to remind customers that we will never request a customer’s personal or banking details by email or text message.”

She added that anyone who receives a phishing message should send it to phishing@slc.co.uk to help the organisation to take access against the sites.

“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,” Innes said, reflecting advice commonly given by cyber security experts.

Since the 2012/13 academic year, the Student Loans Company says it has prevented fraud losses totalling more than £65 million. In the last three Septembers alone, it has prevented more than £1.5 million of students’ initial maintenance payments being stolen through phishing scams, which it says primarily target freshers.

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