Staying safe online
With more of us turning to the internet for learning, shopping and socialising, it’s important to keep safe online.
Unfortunately, many cyber criminals and scammers are using COVID-19 as a cover story to try and steal students’ money or personal information, both online and offline. Often, these scammers will pose as legitimate organisations such as banks, the police or the university.
If you suspect an online scam or anything suspicious, then report it to the Digital Technologies Service Desk, including attachments or links you've clicked on.
Here are some other useful links to help you:
- Gov.uk: Protecting yourself from cybercrime related to COVID-19
- ActionFraud: to find out about current online scams and report cyber crime
- Citizen’s advice Bureau: for advice about recognising scams
Here are some of the most popular scams to look out for
Social media scams
As many as 1 in 5 young people have had their social media hacked. Once on your account, the hacker can see anything you’ve posted online along with any personal information such as your address, phone number or birthday. This information could be used to defraud you. Take time to create strong passwords for your social media accounts and avoid using the same password for multiple sites.
Proceed with caution when purchasing any types of tickets online. Unofficial ticket touts are active on sites like Viagogo, Seatwave, Ticketswap, Gumtree and eBay. These sites aren’t liable if you receive fake tickets (or if you don’t receive any tickets at all). If you do buy tickets from a small retailer, pay by credit card if possible so that you can cancel the payment if the tickets don’t arrive or if lockdown rules change and events are cancelled.
Spear phishing scams
Where a fraudulent email is sent to a specific target. An example could be a cybercriminal finding out information about a student and then posing as the university asking for payment of tuition fees or for accommodation. Never reply to an email or click on links that you are unsure of. Our Student Finance Team can assist if you are ever unsure.
Currency exchange scams
Cybercriminals may advertise a service providing better currency exchange rates and will ask that money is transferred to them directly. Only use authorised currency exchange services and if a rate seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Websites offering jobs in the UK that do not exist
1 in 3 targets of online job scams are students and graduates who are told they have been offered a position, then are asked to pay for a visa and work permit. If a job offer and salary sound too good to be true, then it probably is. Be wary of companies without a physical location and always use verified job boards and job sites. NTU has a dedicated job-board on FutureHub, where jobs are vetted before being advertised.
Fraud allegations and police incidents
Scammers might sometimes contact a student claiming to be the police, accusing them of committing a crime. Personal information such as copies of ID and bank details are asked for to prove the student’s innocence. Never respond to an email requesting sensitive information until you have verified the validity of the request.
Money mule scams
Someone makes contact via email or a job advert claiming they are unable to pay cash into their bank account. They usually ask you to pay the money into your own account and then transfer it back to them. They may also ask you to complete a minor task for them. A 10% cut is then offered as compensation for your time. This is a type of money laundering. No legitimate company would ever ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money so never accept any job offers that ask you to do this.
Vishing and smishing scams
Scams that involve criminals calling or texting their target to convince them to part with confidential information or money. Be wary of unknown numbers and unsolicited calls, especially where personal information is requested.
Top tips for spotting a scam
- Read emails carefully before acting. Phishing emails may contain grammatical errors or an urgent request- take time to consider the email content before deciding whether to respond or act.
- Beware of links and attachments. Hover over any links before clicking on them to check they’re legitimate. If the link looks suspicious or different to what the sender describes, it could be fraudulent and should not be clicked.
- Never reply to emails asking for passwords, pins or other account details.
- The university will never email or phone you asking for account details. Any email that asks you for bank details will probably be fraudulent.
- Verify the source. Always remember to check the sender’s email address when you receive an email and when you reply. Scammers can spoof the ‘From’ email address to make it look like someone you know but when you reply, the email address may change.
- Report anything suspicious to the Digital Technologies Service Desk , including attachments or links you've clicked on.