The UK is a wonderful place to study – with benefits not just to your education and career, but also in terms of friendship, culture, and personal development .
Unfortunately, like anywhere else in the world, there are some scams which particularly target international students.
This page provides information about some of the common scams targeting students. The International Student Support team are always here to help should you think you have fallen victim to a scam.
Here are some key tips on how to reduce the chance of becoming a victim of fraud:
- If anything sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- DO NOT give your bank details to anybody you do not know or trust.
- Research any company that gives you a job offer to be sure they are legitimate and be wary of job offers from outside the UK – it can be harder to check if they are genuine.
- Be cautious with any adverts or contact where the English is poor, such as grammatical errors or spelling mistakes
- If you are ever in doubt or unsure about anything, contact us – we are here to help!
Types of scams
HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) Scam
You may get a text, phone call, or e-mail which claims to be HMRC. This usually either:
- Asks you for your payment or personal information.
- Tells you about a tax rebate or penalty, which can then lead to asking you for your bank details.
For further information on HMRC scams you can visit this page.
If you need to report a Phishing Scam to HMRC or you have accidently given away personal details you can do that here.
If you receive contact from UKVI that seems suspicious and sudden – it may be a scam. If you are unsure, do not respond to any e-mails, and end any calls that you are wary of. You should contact us if UKVI contact you and it is unexpected and we can check whether it is legitimate or not..
UKVI recently released some guidance for students:
- Legitimate Home Office officials will never contact you and ask you to pay visa fees or fines over the phone.
- Home Office or UKVI officials will never ask you to pay visa fees or fines using iTunes gift cards, cryptocurrency or money transfer services. Never provide the numbers on the back of iTunes Gift Cards to someone you don't know.
- Always question unexpected requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Even if someone knows your basic details, it doesn’t mean they are genuine.
- Trusted organisations won't pressure you to make a financial transaction on the spot. If something feels wrong, question it.
Post Office scam
You may get a text or e-mail claiming to be the Royal Mail, stating you have a package waiting for you. They may ask you to pay money, or to click a link to arrange or reschedule delivery. DO NOT click these links no matter how convincing they look.
The Royal Mail does not normally contact people like this and will usually leave a card at your address if you have any issues with a delivery.
If you get contact you and unsure, contact the Royal Mail yourself or get in touch with our team and we will be happy to help.
For further information on Royal Mail scams please visit this link.
Money Laundering scam
You may encounter a situation where somebody asks to transfer money into your account, where you then transfer it to another bank account, keeping some for yourself. Even if it is someone you know and trust – always be careful. Some people may pretend to be something or someone that looks legitimate, such as a job advert, and then ask for your bank details.
Whilst this may seem tempting, this is known as money laundering and is a serious crime.
If you are concerned that you may have been targeted, you should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or at crimestoppers-uk.org. This number is free, and you can report your concerns in complete confidence. You do not have to give your name.
Police & Immigration scam
A common scam is to be targeted by people pretending to be the police or immigration officials. This can be over text, telephone, e-mail, or even in person, and they may even dress in a very similar way to the police.
They may try to intimidate you and threaten you with deportation or other consequences unless you pay a fine or some outstanding money that they claim you owe.
The police would not randomly ask you for money like this, and neither would the UK’s immigration department or workers.
Bank or Payment Services fraud
You may get a text, e-mail or phone call, claiming to be your bank, or perhaps an organisation called Paypal. They may say that there is an issue with your account, some suspicious activity, or claim that you owe them money or fees of some sort.
You should never click on any links in texts or e-mails, no matter how genuine they may appear. If on the telephone, do not give any personal or financial information, and end the call as soon as possible.
You should contact the bank or whoever they are claiming to be yourself, and if they are genuine they will not have a problem with you doing this.
A common scam that international students can be a victim of is Rental fraud. This is often where you are asked to pay money for a property up front that may not even exist or may have already been rented to someone else.
The victim of this pays the fee, and then is not able to secure the property they paid for.
International students looking for accommodation, especially before they have arrived in the UK, are often targets of this scam.
For further information on this please visit this link.
COVID-19 Vaccine Scam
There have been reports of suspicious calls, texts and e-mails from people claiming to be the NHS about the COVID-19 vaccine. This often leads to requests for payment, personal information or financial information. The NHS vaccine is FREE OF CHARGE. You will never be asked for any financial information or to prove your identity with documents such as a bank statement for example.
If you are offered the vaccine and are unsure whether it is legitimate or not, you can contact your local GP to check or our team can help with this.
Tuition fee scam
Please be aware of scams targeting international students where a third party offers to pay your fees on your behalf. The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit have provided soome detailed information about this scam:
The golden rule: if somebody contacts you asking for money, personal details, or financial details, you should always be wary. They may pretend to be your phone provider, a student loan organisation, or anyone they can to try to trick you into giving them money or personal information.
They may seem genuine, they may know your personal details, but you should never give out your details to anybody.
If you are unsure or something seems suspicious, you should
- end the contact,
- contact the ISS team or
- check it is legitimate, and then contact the company yourself. If they are genuine, they will not mind you doing this.
If in doubt - contact ISS.