Information Services

Fraud Awareness Resources

Find advice and guidance on how to prevent and respond to online fraud and phishing attacks, especially while during hybrid working and studying.

Advice and Guidance

Find various fraud prevention resources aimed at helping you avoid common attacks such as phishing emails and other forms of social engineering. Please note that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Coronavirus-related fraud has been on the rise since March 2020. More information on these types of fraud can be found in the next section. We are also aware of a number of scams targeted at international students. Please continue to scroll down for more information.

University of Edinburgh Finance: Scams

The University's finance department has consolidated information on known scams targeting students, as well as information on how to protect yourself and who to contact if you or someone you know has been targeted by scammers. 

Scams | The University of Edinburgh

Action Fraud

This website provides helpful advice on how to protect yourself from fraud and cybercrime.

Action Fraud Advice on Fraud and Cybercrime

Check if your email has been compromised

“Have I been pwned?” is a website that checks to see if your email has ever been leaked in a data breach.

Have I been Pwned?

Cifas: Fraud Prevention

Cifas is a UK-based non-profit fraud prevention service. Find helpful articles and advice on how to prevent and respond to financial fraud through the website below.

Cifas: Fraud Prevention for Individuals

Fraud, tricks and scams

This page gives you advice on protecting yourself from tricks and scams the Home Office are aware of. Remember, if you receive an unexpected email, telephone call or letter from someone who claims to be from the Home Office, it may be a scam.

HMRC guidance on fraud, tricks and scams

Information Security: Learning to Avoid Phishing

Phishing links are the most common kind of attack. The University’s Information Security (InfoSec) team have put together a helpful guide for recognising these threats and learning how to avoid them.

InfoSec: Learning to avoid phishing

Telephone Fraud

Find tips for what to look out for when it comes to telephone fraud through the video below.

Phone scams - what to look out for (YouTube)

Coronavirus-related scams

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, fraudsters are more active than ever, taking advantage of increases in remote working and online shopping. The following websites offer more information on what types of scams to look out for as well as what to do if you've been the victim of a Coronavirus-related scam. For more tips on keeping yourself safe while online shopping, visit our Digital Safety Tips and Resources page.

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)

This webpage provides ASA’s top tips for avoiding Coronavirus scams as well as a list of useful organisations to contact if you’re concerned about potential scams.

ASA Consumer Advice: Avoiding coronavirus scams


The BBC have tracked five campaigns that cyber criminals are using to target individuals and industries with emails scams.

BBC: Coronavirus: How hackers are preying on fears of Covid-19

Get Safe Online

This article provides short summaries of some common fraudulent activity associated with the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Get Safe Online: Current Coronavirus-related online scams you should be aware of


To help you avoid Covid-19 scams, Google has put together a useful fact sheet to help you spot and avoid online fraud. Learn about common types of scams, such as fraudulent financial offers, fake charitable donation requests and false government updates, as well as how to prevent these.

Google's Covid-19 Safety Tips


This article provides information on scam calls and text messages that have impacted consumers in the wake of Covid-19 and includes picture examples of what to look out for.

Ofcom: Advice for consumers: coronavirus scam calls and texts

Safe, Secure, Online (SWGfL)

In this article, SWGfL outlines measures you can take to keep yourself safe online in the face of rising email, website and online shopping related scams.

Safe, Secure, Online: Cyber Security Advice during Coronavirus

UK Government

In the wake of increased Coronavirus-related scams, the UK government has issued official advice on how to protect yourself online. 

UK Government: Be vigilant against coronavirus scams

Scams Targeting International Students

Unfortunately, a large number of financial scams are targeted at our international student population. In response to a large number of scams affecting our students from China, in particular, Police Scotland have issued the following advice.

Police Scotland Chinese Students Safety Information Leaflet (SharePoint PDF)

Police Scotland Chinese Students Safety Message (Simplified Chinese - SharePoint PDF)

Police Scotland Chinese Students Safety Message (Traditional Chinese - SharePoint PDF)

Known Scams

The following is a list of scams that have affected students at the University of Edinburgh and elsewhere. Familiarising yourself with this list could help you and those around you avoid falling for the same scams. Since March 2020, students and staff should be especially vigiliant about Coronavirus-related fraud.

Amazon Scam

An automated phone call says you’ve been incorrectly charged for an Amazon Prime subscription. As soon as you press 1 to cancel the subscription, you’re put through to someone posing as an Amazon customer service representative, who tells you they need remote access to your computer in order to fix a security flaw. You’re then asked to download an application called ‘Team Viewer’ and asked to log onto your online banking account. The software download grants the fraudster remote access to your computer, allowing them to see your personal and financial details.

Amazon Prime Scam

Student Loans Company phishing scam

Students get an email from what appears to be the Student Loans Company asking for their bank details.

Student Loans Company phishing scam

Rental fraud

Reports indicate that £22 million has been lost to rental fraud in the last four years. Students looking for property are asked to pay a fee in advance for a property that doesn’t even exist. When possible, go through an accredited rental agency for accommodation.

Rental scams – additional information

Money laundering or money mules

Young people under the age of 21 are the fastest growing age group being recruited as money mules by criminals.

Money mules – additional information

The ‘virtual kidnapping’ scam

This is a particularly nasty scam where a student is contacted by someone pretending to be from the Embassy of their home country who tells them they are implicated in a serious crime. They are persuaded not to tell anyone and to cut off all contact with their family and ‘kidnap’ themselves. Money is then extorted from the family as well as from the student.

Virtual kidnapping – additional information

Fake Home Office scam

This scam targets international students. Fake police or Home Office officials contact the student and tell them they did not complete the correct paperwork on entry into the country and that they must pay a fine or be deported.

Home Office scams – additional information

Tuition payment scams

Students are contacted and offered ‘help’ to pay their tuition fees or told they can have a bursary if they supply their bank details.

Tuition fee scams – additional information

Foreign exchange scams

Students looking for favourable exchange rates may unwittingly be laundering money and may also end up losing their money.

Foreign exchange fraud – additional information

Online Fraud – Additional Information

Find out more about the type of scams that have affected University students in the UK through the following resources.

Which? University: Top Student Scams

Little Book of Big Scams (3.96 MB PDF)

Tips for staying safe when shopping online

Busy retail periods such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a key time for fraudsters to act. Banks estimate that nearly 25% of 18 to 34-year-olds have fallen for a Black Friday scam in the past five years, losing an average of £661. Here are some tips to keep you safe while shopping.

1. Go to the source: Go straight to the retailer’s website rather than clicking on a potentially unsafe link.

2. Avoid “too good to be true” deals: These are usually an attempt to lure you into giving your personal data.

3. Pay with a credit card: Credit cards offer better protection against financial fraud than debit cards.

4. Connect with caution: Public wi-fi connections are not secure; avoid doing your banking in public!

5. Don’t rush: Take your time when online shopping and ensure the site if legitimate before entering personal information, even when a deal appears to be time sensitive.

6. It’s not always cheaper: Just because a retailer tells you the price has been slashed by however much doesn’t mean it’s true! Compare your options before committing to a purchase.


© Victoria Madden, University of Edinburgh, 2021, CC BY-SA 4.0, unless otherwise indicated.