Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Student Loan Emails - Phishing

With each instalment of student loans we see a fresh batch of phishing emails sent by criminals who want to steal money from students. 

It's more of the same with regards spam and phishing, we block vast amounts of the stuff and generally our filters (now run by Google) are incredibly effective. Unfortunately a small number of mails still get through.

Targeting students who are waiting for their loans is particularly horrible and particularly effective. Our students do expect correspondance from SLC and the University. Therefore it's not surprising that when someone tells you that you need to update your bank details to get the money you desperately need to pay your rent the success rate is high. A couple of years ago Sheffield Hallam University was targeted and as a result 50 Hallam students lost their loans.

By reporting the scam emails that do land in your inbox the Helpdesk are able to monitor the situation at a local level, blocking senders, blocking websites and investigating further. Where we can identify a more serious threat then we escalate the matter to the appropriate authorities. We also work proactively to send out timely warnings; in the student newsletter due to land tomorrow there will be a warning for students expecting a payment in April.

The good news is that we're making progress. Arrests are being made and prison sentences are being handed down to the criminals running the scams, see Two Men Jailed For £1.5m Student Phishing Scams for a summary of a recent case involving student loans. This is a real collaborative effort that involves the recipients, CiCS staff (particularly the Helpdesk), Student Services, the SLC, Janet (www.ja.net) and the relevant authorities. 

So, if you receive a student loan phishing email please forward it on to phishing@slc.co.uk and phishing@shef.ac.uk. Every report sent to phishing@shef.ac.uk is checked and really does help us keep on top of this.