Chinese student looking down. photo side on.

Protecting yourself against scams

The world is full of all kinds of people and some of them make their money by tricking others out of theirs. While anyone could be targeted, students are seen as a soft target — but there are ways to recognise scams and, more importantly, protect yourself against them.

What are scams?

A scam, or a fraud, is simply a dishonest or illegal plan or activity for making money.

The tactics can vary but the objective is always the same. Falling for a scammer doesn’t make you stupid, these are professional liars and thieves — they are quite simply criminals. This is why if you should fall victim to one of them, the most important thing to do is report what has happened.

Spot the signs

Knowing what to be on the lookout for when it comes to scams is one of the best ways to protect yourself.

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.
  2. If you receive a suspicious call or text do not give the caller any personal information, or confirm that any information they already have about you is correct.
  3. If someone asks you to transfer money, if they ask for payment in the form of gift cards, iTunes vouchers, cryptocurrency or through money transfer services like Western Union, it is always a scam. No legitimate company, institution, government department or person will never ever ask for this. Certainly they’d never ask for this by email, text or through a phone call.
  4. The clearest sign that someone is up to no good is if they ask for personal details, PIN codes or passwords. No legitimate company, institution, government department or person will ask you for these.
  5. Email addresses. If you get an email, expand the panel at the top of the message and see exactly who it has come from. If it is a scam, the email address will be filled in with random numbers, or be misspelt.
  6. If you are pressured to sign documents fast, or you are pushed into making a decision on the spot, be suspicious. Scammers don’t want you to have time to think about it.

(Information from Blackbullion’s Covid Scams Fact Sheet.)

If you do have any questions or queries about the information covered in this blog, please contact the University of Reading’s International Student Advisory Team: int.adv@reading.ac.uk/ +44 (0)118 378 8038.

To report a scam or get further advice take a look at the Action Fraud website, or phone 0300 123 2040.

Get Money Smart

Sign up now for Blackbullion to help you understand and better manage your finances while at University. As a University of Reading student, this service is free to you!

Bookmark the Money Matters page on Essentials.

Expand your knowledge of scams

Keep your eyes peeled as later in the year the University will be running a fraud and scam webinar with Barclays.

This event will be listed on the Student Event’s page of Essentials.

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