Criminals sometimes target students through scams and online fraud. Find out about recent fraud attempts at Sussex and get tips on how to protect yourself.
Expert tips for protecting your identity online
14 January 2021
Your identity is one of your most important possessions. Read tips from Get Safe Online to help protect it.
Protect yourself against frauds and scams
Criminals use all kinds of ways to trick you into paying money or giving them valuable information about yourself.
Important: Whenever you receive a telephone call or email from someone you do not know, remember: it could be a scam.
Some common features of fraudulent calls include when the caller:
- appears to be genuine and convincing, because they have some limited information about you (for example, your passport number, as well as your telephone number and name)
- gives you their name and telephone number, to try to convince you they are genuine – the number may even appear on your phone as coming from a genuine source, such as a government department like the Home Office
- advises you not to tell anyone about the call as it would be a security breach.
If you’re contacted
If you receive such a call, email or text, do not:
- give the caller/sender any personal information
- confirm that any information they have is correct.
You may wish to:
- tell the caller or sender you know they are making fraudulent contact and that you will be reporting it to the police and the government, or
- stop communicating and report the incident to the Student Centre – we can report the fraud to the authorities and warn other students through University communications.
You can also:
- report the matter to Action Fraud
- help other potential fraud victims by adding details of your experience to a discussion on the Who Calls Me website.
Some criminals specifically target international students, pretending to be from a legitimate organisation (such as the UK Home Office, UKVI or an education agent). They demand money (calling it a “fine” for a non-existent immigration problem) and claim that if you do not pay them quickly there will be damaging consequences (for example, deportation or cancelling your visa).
- say there is a serious problem with your immigration status, and that you need to pay a fine, or send a payment
- demand payment is made using Western Union or Moneygram as soon as possible, supposedly to prevent further action or investigation by the UK Home Office
- speak in dramatic terms, perhaps talking about deportation or cancelling your visa – this is a common fraudster technique to make you panic and become pressurised into paying the fake fine.
Do not make any payment.
The Home Office does not issue financial penalties and would never call you asking you to make a payment in this way.
Contact our visa team if you suspect you have been targeted by a criminal.
The best way to avoid scams (not just as a student, but after your studies as well), is to follow reputable news and be aware of any emerging crime trends.
You can complete the Scams pathway on the Blackbullion learning platform to gain extra financial confidence.
At Sussex, you can keep up with student communications to help stay informed.