The Student Loans Company says fraudsters are targeting first-year students who reveal too much information on social networking sites such as Facebook.
An online Freshers' Week survey of more than 1,100 university applicants revealed that many will be inviting new people they meet to be Facebook friends. Of those, two-thirds reveal personal details that could aid thieves.
Fraudsters can hack into someone’s bank account through phishing. This is the method of sending convincing looking emails that ask for specific information unique to the account holder. This process begins with an email, which the survey revealed that two in five students will give out.
The survey also showed that across England males are at higher risk of student finance fraud than females as they're significantly more likely to make their profile public, accept anyone as a 'friend' and are less vigilant with personal details.
In the last academic year, fraudsters attempted to access money from over 1,600 students.
The fraud protection and detection manager at the Student Loans Company, Heather Laing, said: "Freshers are often managing their finances for the first time by themselves when they start university and we want them to make sure they're keeping their personal and financial information safe, especially online.
"We monitor student loan phishing very closely and close phishing sites down as soon as students alert us to them, to protect other students.
"Students are often targeted at the three main instalment dates in September, January and April and they need to work with us to ensure their identity and financial details are protected and not compromised."
The Student Loans Company says it will never:
• ask you to update your bank details.
• ask you to verify your account details
• ask you to answer combinations on the same screen i.e. Your Customer Reference Number and Password on the same screen.
• provide you with a choice of secret question. We will only ever ask you the question you gave us.
• ask you to update items such as date of birth or provide your email address password.
For further information visit the Student Loans Company website.
Please note that Action Fraud is not responsible for the content of external websites.
To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.