It’s that time of year again: when you drive to the other end of the country with a car full of clothes, bed linen, toiletries and electronic gadgets. And when you can look forward to being able to use the bathroom when you want to. If your child is heading off to uni or college this Autumn, these will soon be familiar concepts.
Every parent worries about their young student, but they will survive, with the help of some sound advice. One area of advice you really should pass on is on how to look after their money, including safeguarding themselves against online fraud. However smart your child, whatever grades he or she has achieved, they belong to a generation of risk-takers, even though they’re quite possibly more technology savvy than you are.
Online phishing scams: Don’t get manipulated into revealing passwords or other login details in response to emails, texts, direct messages, posts or phone calls. Many fake requests claim to be from trusted sources such as student loan providers, banks, HMRC or the police, or even companies like Apple. Responding to phishing emails and calls can lead to fraud, identity theft, or both.
Social media security: Do be aware of what you share. Personal details in social media profiles and posts are how many fraudsters piece together what they need. The same goes for providing confidential information in return for freebies, or to be entered into prize draws.
Fraudulent landlords: Do thorough checks on potential lets before parting with any money. Check out the accommodation in person, and that the landlord really is the landlord.
Bank account scams and ticket fraud: Don’t pay someone you don’t know by bank transfer, such as for goods, travel, gig/festival tickets or any kind of services. If it’s a fraud, there’s very little chance of getting your money refunded.
Romance fraud and internet dating scams: Do be careful with online dating by not sending any money or bank account details in response to hard luck stories. Do reverse image searches to make sure you’re not being catfished. And avoid sending or sharing intimate images or video … you never know if they’re going to be used for extortion if they fall into the wrong hands.
Unsecured Wi-Fi risks: Do make sure that student Wi-Fi is secure, by talking to the IT provider. Avoid using public hotspots when you’re doing anything confidential, as it could be either unsecure or bogus.
Laptop theft protection: Do protect your laptop and mobile devices against theft or getting lost. Apart from being essential to study and student life, they probably also contain, and have links to, a considerable amount of confidential data.
Credit score monitoring: Do check your credit score regularly to make sure nobody has taken out credit or purchased anything in your name.
Scams to make money: Do be able to spot a fraudulent get rich quick scheme, as students are often targeted. These include jobs with pay that’s too good to be true, and having money laundered through your bank account. Some students even sell their bank account to fraudsters, unaware that it’s an offence that could land them with a criminal record.
Report fraud fast: Report any actual or attempted fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or on 0300 123 2040
At Get Safe Online, we’ve always focused on advice about not becoming a victim. But more recently, we’ve acknowledged that an increasing number of young people can and do become involved in criminal activity such as malware coding and hacking, while their parents and friends are completely oblivious. Sometimes it’s for financial gain, sometimes it’s to gain peer status or purely a sense of achievement. Please talk to your child about their cyber choices – a life of crime vs. a worthwhile future in cyber security.
There’s a wealth of more in-depth advice at www.getsafeonline.org We also advice that your young student gets to know their uni or college’s Student Money Adviser for more general advice on how to take care of their finances.
Oh, and enjoy your new-found peace!