In the past, students have been targeted by clever con artists and have handed over substantial quantities of cash. Please read the following points and don’t get caught out.
- Beware of bogus police officers. Real police don’t issue on the spot fines or request immediate payments of cash.
- Money mules – if someone offers to transfer money via your bank account, avoid at all costs.
- Banks details – police and other organisations will never ask you to disclose your bank card PIN numbers or passwords.
- Personal data – be careful what personal data you make public on social media. Identity thieves trawl such websites to build up profiles to then steal people’s identities. Avoid posting anything online you may later come to regret either personally or professionally. You may also make yourself vulnerable to unwanted or inappropriate advances.
- Avoid being taken in by sob stories from strangers asking for cash. They will be well-rehearsed and sound believable, but it will be a series of lies set to deceive you.
- Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Avoid leaving any computer unattended when logged on – always log off.
Protect your money
An area often overlooked by students is the need to protect their money. The University has received reports that students across the country have been targeted by criminals promising to help students make ‘easy money’. These opportunities usually involve criminal activity, such as money laundering. For example, you could be targeted in the following ways:
- Being asked to use your bank account to make a money transfer in return for cash - here you would be acting as a ‘money mule’, which is a crime.
- Your tuition fees paid in exchange for cash. Here the criminals offer to pay your tuition fees (usually online or over the phone using a stolen credit/debit card), in exchange for you paying them a cash sum lower than the tuition fee charge.
- Being approached by agents offering to make payments to the university on behalf of you or your parents (especially if you are an international student) and you are then directed to use a fraudulent operator for the transaction.
- Receiving an email, reportedly from HMRC, claiming you are eligible for a tax refund and asking you to enter your details into a website to claim your money back. These emails are fake and should be reported to HMRC.
If you have experienced fraud, or are aware of fraud taking place, report it to Action Fraud.
Oxford Brookes’ Information Security Office contains advice on issues such as how to spot phishing emails, keeping phones and other devices secure and what to do if you experience cyberbullying.