NatWest issues help and advice to avoid becoming a victim after over half of all students have encountered a fraud or scam. Edinburgh revealed as scammer hotspot with 97% targeted by a scam.

NatWest is issuing an urgent scam alert as over half of all students have been actively targeted by criminals this year. The alarming statistics are revealed in the 2022 NatWest Student Living Index, due to be released in full on 12 August.

Over the last year, fraudsters have been increasingly posing as bank staff and have attempted to con a quarter of students, according to the findings of NatWest’s annual survey of nearly 3,000 students. These criminals are reported to have engaged in increasingly refined fraudulent activity, carrying out stings including fake text messages, calls or emails in which they pose as bank staff to collect money or personal details. Nationally, men are much more likely to be conned with these types of scams with one in three male students reporting having experienced this compared with one in five women.

A further one in six students experienced an HMRC Tax rebate scam over the past academic year with 16% of students saying they had been contacted by crooks via fake emails, texts, or calls, claiming entitlement to a tax-rebate. Criminals engaging in these activities attempt to gather personal details such as name, date of birth, address, and sometimes payment card details. The fraudster often goes on to phone the victim, impersonating their bank, using these details to build trust and confidence that it is a genuine bank call.

The top locations for student scams are Edinburgh, Cambridge, and Coventry with over four in five in each of these areas having experienced fraud. Whilst Durham comes in lower down the table, students are still likely to be targeted, with almost one third (29%) having been subjected to fraud.

The NatWest Student Living Index surveyed nearly 3000 students across the UK. Students were asked a range of questions, on fraud and scams, how much they spend on essentials such as food, rent and bills, and how much time they spend studying, working, and socialising. The full 2022 NatWest Student Living Index will be revealed on 12 August 2022.

Laura Behan, Head of NatWest Student Accounts said: “This year’s NatWest Student Living Index reveals a concerning number of students being targeted by criminals. We’d advise students to be on their guard when they receive an unexpected text message, email or phone call asking for personal details.”

NatWest tips to help students stay safe and secure.

Tips to become more fraud proof

  • Be sceptical of unsolicited phone calls, texts or emails asking for personal or bank details. Banks or the Police will never ask for a full PIN or password, card reader codes, or ask you to move money from your account
  • Do not recycle passwords and use a unique password for your bank accounts and email accounts
  • Don’t give away your personal and bank details too easily. Criminals often use online competitions or offers of free shopping vouchers as a way of harvesting information from potential victims
  • Try to shop online with websites you know and trust, using your debit or credit card
  • If you see a deal online that looks too good to be true from a website you’ve never heard of, it’s probably a scam. If you have doubts, don’t make the purchase
  • If an online seller asks you to send money direct from your bank account to theirs, this is probably a scam. If they fail to deliver the goods you will lose your money
  • When it comes to buying online, use your credit or debit card to pay, or carefully follow the scam advice on auction sites such as eBay to help you avoid falling victim.
  • Watch out for social media investment scams. These often use fake celebrity endorsements and the promise of getting rich quick.
  • Pass this information on to your family and friends, especially anyone you think might be vulnerable.

NatWest is also offering customers free Malwarebytes anti-virus software to help with added online protection.

The NatWest Student account offers an £80 cash incentive, a four-year tastecard membership and a £2000 interest free overdraft. NatWest also offers free Financial Health checks to help students organise their finances.

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