FIRST-year students in Scotland set to embark on Freshers’ Week celebrations are being urged to be extra vigilant against becoming the latest victims of cyber crime.
Thousands of students in Scotland will receive their first loan and bursary instalments this month, making them instant targets for cyber criminals looking to ensnare them in identity theft and online scams.
As part of a drive to warn against the dangers of online crime, e-Crime Scotland, with the support of Get Safe Online and Student Loans Company, is raising awareness of how students can protect themselves.
Gary Ritchie, assistant director at Scottish Business Crime Centre (SBCC), said that, by taking a few simple steps, students can protect themselves against the heartache and often serious consequences caused by the actions of cyber criminals.
He added: “It’s common knowledge that students often have a spending splurge as soon as their loans or bursaries hit their bank accounts and they will no doubt make the most of their new social lives but they must tread carefully before making any ominous transactions or sharing their personal details.
“One of the biggest threats is identity theft which is now one of the fastest growing crimes in the United Kingdom and is costing victims over £1.3 billion annually.
“The problem is that students may not initially be concerned about identity theft as often they don’t consider themselves to have a lot of money or assets but what is overlooked is the fact that their names and reputation are equally valuable.
“It’s important to be cautious when using computers for online banking transactions, buying merchandise or storing personal information as this kind of sensitive information is gold dust to fraud committing thieves and the damage can seriously jeopardise your financial future.”
e-CrimeScotland has been developed through the Scottish Financial Crime Group and is working with key partners in the Scottish Business Crime Centre, Scottish Law Enforcement, Scottish Government to educate Scottish businesses and consumers on how to be aware, vigilant and ultimately safe from the destructive effects of e-Crime in all its forms.
Gary is also highlighting common online scams which can be equally effective in obtaining personal information in order to commit cyber crimes.
He added: “Other scams I’ve witnessed include phishing, which is the use of fake emails or links to obtain other people’s sensitive details like passwords, usernames or bank account details.
“Criminals are smart and can dupe victims with a compelling reason to persuade you to go to their website or click on a link contained in an email which is often from familiar names in the high street and the web sites can look genuine but are designed to lure people into entering personal details.
“Once entered, criminals can gain access to your identity, take money from your bank account or infect your computer with a virus which then allows them to control your system.
“Watch out for emails which state that urgent action is required, contains a link or company name you don’t recognise or have no business with and when asked to enter personal details ensure there is a padlock sign on the screen.
“It might seem like common sense but, most importantly, do not give out your personal details as your bank will never ask for passwords or security codes online via email. Don’t leave personal documents lying around for easy pickings and always shred up bank statements.
“We will be issuing information packed leaflets to Scottish universities and colleges with more facts and tips on the dangers of cyber crime and how students can protect themselves whilst still being able to enjoy and make the most out of student life.”
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