Fraudsters are already gearing up to steal from people heading off to university this year, with purchase scams targeting students up by 17% over the last year, according to Lloyds (LLOY.L).
Most scams start on Facebook or Instagram, advertising trainers, games consoles, clothes or event tickets. These purchase are up by 17% in the last 12 months alone, with the victim losing on average £334.
Impersonating scams, however, are the most costly as victims lose on average £1,457. In these scams, the victim is tricked into making a payment or give personal financial details to someone claiming to be from a trusted organisation such as the bank, the police or a university.
There have been cases of scammers sending fake emails asking for student fees to be paid. These scams often begin with a phone call, text message or email, but criminals could pretend to be a delivery company or even impersonate a friend or family member.
Read more: Scams cost victims over £1.3bn last year
Liz Ziegler, retail fraud and financial crime director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Heading off to university is always an exciting time, with the promise of more independence, the chance to make new friends, and dreams of your future.
"But with criminals constantly on the lookout for new ways to trick victims out of their cash, student life can quickly turn into a nightmare if you don’t keep your guard up against the threat of fraudsters.
“If a deal looks too good to be true, or you’re being pressured to make a payment quickly, that should set alarm bells ringing that you’re about to get scammed.”
Advance fee scams have now overtaken investment scams to become the third most common type of scam targeting students over the last year, according to Lloyds.
These scams happen when fraudsters target victims to make advance or upfront payments for goods or services that do not happen.
Criminals will often create fake social media ads to lure in victims, who have been losing around £758 on average to this type of scam.
Sophie, 24, from Bristol is studying for her postgraduate certificate in education and has been targeted by imposters trying to scam her.
She said: “I get emails, texts and social media ads daily which are definitely scams. Most common are the emails telling me I’ve won a prize, then asking me to fill out a form with my details, or click a link to claim it.”
“I get texts that pretend to be from delivery companies, telling me I’ve got a parcel I need to collect – again, asking me to click links to arrange redelivery, or provide loads of personal details. Why do I need to give my card details to arrange a redelivery? That’s an immediate giveaway for me.”
However, one of her friends wasn’t so lucky and fell victim to fraudsters who tried to blackmail her.
“One of my friends had a really horrible experience. She was cold-called by someone who convinced her to give them remote access to her laptop. They took over her laptop, controlling what she could and couldn’t access, and kept calling her to try and blackmail her into giving them money to stop.
"It was really upsetting and she became too nervous to use the laptop, which obviously had a knock-on effect on completing her assignments.
“I was already cautious but my friend’s experience made me even more so. I rarely answer unknown numbers who call me, in case it is a scam, and I don’t really open emails from any address I don’t recognise – to make sure my laptop doesn’t get a virus.
Watch: Phishing scam red flags to look for