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Fraud safety at uni

Learn how to stay safe online

Discover the ways that fraudsters can take advantage, and how to help protect yourself.

Whether it’s through your smartphone, laptop or other digital device, we’re always connected. And for the most part, it’s great! But unfortunately, it also opens us up to the threat of fraud. 

Read on to discover the steps you can take to help protect yourself, and what to look out for.

Learn their ways

There are lots of ways that you might be contacted by a scammer. We’re all familiar with ‘phishy’ looking emails. ‘Phishing’ is where fraudsters send emails (often appearing to be from your bank) asking you to disclose personal information or send money. They may also ask you to download a file or click on a link to a bogus website, which may then allow fraudsters to access your details. You should never click through on any links or download any files, and always delete the email. The same goes for text messages.

You could also receive a phone call out of the blue, and the caller might claim to be a range of people, like:

  • Someone of authority, like a police officer or bank manager
  • Technical support from a tech company’s customer services
  • A salesperson

The who’s who with fake calls

Calls from someone pretending to be a person of authority could use this clout to encourage you to share sensitive bank details or personal information.

Technical support impersonators could tell you they’ve detected a fault with your laptop or computer, and that they need to access it remotely to fix the problem. They may also say you need to buy a piece of software straightaway to solve the problem.

A fake salesperson could offer some kind of deal or investment opportunity that’s ‘available today only’, with a special deal exclusively for you.

What to do

In all cases, a call out of the blue is unlikely to be legitimate, so if you’re unsure of the person’s credibility, just hang up.

If they’re pretending to be calling from a company or brand that you do have a relationship with, go online and find the number for the department the call claimed to be from.

We have a Phone number checker that you can use if you ever get a suspicioius call claiming to be from Barclays.  

Remember, if you ever get a call claiming to be from Barclays, we’ll never ask for your PIN, password, PINsentry or Mobile PINsentry codes.

The online shopping scam

As well as these scams, there are a few that you could stumble on in your daily routine. A common one is tied to online shopping. This is where a fraudster will advertise a product or a service, take your payment for it, but then will never deliver what you paid for. 

Before sending your hard-earned cash to a private seller or even a legitimate-looking brand, do a quick search to see if they’re genuine, and that they have good ratings and reviews. You could also use secure payment options like PayPal or a credit card when shopping online.

The money mule scam

The money mule trap is also something you might see on job-search websites, listed as though it were a real job. With this scam, you could be offered a payment in exchange for receiving stolen or illegally obtained money into your bank account. You could then be asked to keep hold of it for some time, or transfer it on. This is a crime, even if you don’t know where the money came from, so never entertain any offer like this.

How to stay safe

As a rule, if a stranger approached you on the street and asked you for your date of birth, your full name, or any of your personal information, you probably wouldn’t share those details. So the same goes for the internet, especially your social media accounts. This’ll prevent fraudsters from being able to piece together enough information to impersonate you online.

Using the internet via public Wi-Fi is also something to be careful of, as a scammer could intercept or see what you’re doing online. Make sure you use a secure web page when you send anything sensitive – that’s a URL that starts with ‘https:\\’.

And when you’re deciding on your PINs, passcodes and passwords, make sure nobody would be able to guess what they are. Use combinations of letters, numbers and characters for a robust password, and try to change it fairly regularly. 

If it happens to you

If you’re a victim of fraud, make sure you notify your bank straightaway and make a formal report to the police. And to help protect yourself, try to trace the steps that led to it, to avoid the same thing happening in the future.

Take our digitally safe quiz to test your fraud awareness.