Please be aware that there are regular cases of phone, text and social media fraud in the UK, affecting international students. Fraud like this can result in students losing very large amounts of money.
Some criminals target international students, pretending to represent an organisation such as their Embassy, the UK Home Office, the National Crime Agency, a bank or the police. They often appear to be genuine and will usually say that you have committed some kind of crime or offence, or that there is an immigration or visa problem. The criminal will usually demand money (sometimes calling it a “fine”), or they might ask you to provide your personal information or bank details.
Is it a fraud?
You can help protect yourself by being aware of the common features of these fraudulent calls (‘scams’).
- The caller may appear to be genuine and convincing, because they have some limited information about you (for example, your name or perhaps even your passport number).
- The caller may give you their name and telephone number, to try to convince you they are genuine. The phone number they are calling from may also appear to be genuine.
- They may say that there is a serious problem with your immigration status, and that you need to pay a fine or send a payment.
- The caller will speak in a dramatic way, perhaps talking about deportation, arrest or cancelling your visa. This is a common fraudster’s technique, to make you panic and pressurise you to act quickly and pay the fake fine. Only a criminal will try to rush or pressure you in this way.
- They may demand secrecy and warn you not to tell anyone else.
- They may ask you to make payment using electronic vouchers or money transfer.
How to respond
If you receive such a call (or message) –
- Do not make any payment. The Home Office, HMRC, National Crime Agency, an embassy, police or similar organisation will never ask you to pay a fine in this way.
- Do not give the caller/sender any personal information, and do not confirm that any information they have is correct.
- You may wish to tell the caller/sender that you know about the fraudulent contact they are making, and that you will be reporting it to the police. Or you may prefer just to end the call.
- If you wish, you can report the call online to the police at Action Fraud www.actionfraud.police.uk.
- If you are concerned and want to discuss, you can contact International Student Support at firstname.lastname@example.org
- UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/Information–Advice/Studying–living-in-the-UK/Frauds-and-scams
- UK Government www.gov.uk/government/publications/frauds-tricks-and-scams/fraud-tricks-and-scams
- Examples of HMRC-related phishing emails, suspicious phone calls and texts https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/phishing-and-bogus-emails-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples/phishing-emails-and-bogus-contact-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples
Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions about this.