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 for Students

Find various fraud awareness and prevention resources aimed at helping you avoid common attacks such as phishing emails, rental scams and other forms of fraud. We are also aware of a number of scams targeted at international students. Please scroll down for more information on specific types of scams.

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

Student-Targeted Scams

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

Common Student Scams and How to Avoid them

The 5 most common scams of 2023 and how to avoid them

Little Book of Big Scams (3.96 MB PDF)

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)

Awareness and Prevention Resources

Find advice on how to protect yourself from a variety of online fraud and scams through the links below.

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 or password has been compromised

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

Check if your email address is in a data breach

Pwned passwords - check if your password is one of the hundreds of millions of real world passwords previously exposed in data breaches

HMRC: 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

Sextortion

Sextortion, which involves the use of threatening to share sexual information, images or video with other parties, is unfortunately on the rise. Police Scotland and the National Crime Agency (NCA) have both issued some helpful guidance on what to do if you or someone you know has been victimised in this way. If you or someone you know has been affected by sextortion, the Rape Crisis Centre's Little Green Book might also help by looking at trauma, the effects of sexual violence, ways of coping and recovery.

Police Scotland Guidance on Sextortion

Police Scotland Sextortion Self-Help Guide (SharePoint PDF)

National Crime Agency Sextortion Guidance

Little Green Book (Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre)

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)

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.

Accommodation Scams - Advice Place

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

Covid-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.

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

Ofcom

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

Online shopping safety tips

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, Shivani Rao, University of Edinburgh, 2022, CC BY-SA 4.0, unless otherwise indicated.