University goers have been warned to beware an increasing number of scam emails purporting to be from the official Student Loans Company (SLC).

The fraudulent messages, often called 'phishing' emails, typically ask recipients to confirm their bank details for loan cash to be paid into. Victims, many of whom start term this week, risk having their accounts emptied (see the Free Anti-Virus Software guide).

The SLC says it has already closed down 50 scam sites this year, double the number in the whole of 2009.

It insists it never asks for bank details by email and students who are targeted should report the attempts to the SLC.

Heather Laing, fraud manager at Student Finance England, which administers payment of loans to English students, says: "Students are likely to receive a great deal of correspondence at this time.

"Scammers exploit this, and some students may fall victim to an email request asking for confirmation of bank details.

"However, we will never ask students to confirm their bank details via email. If they receive such a request, they should forward it on to us to investigate.

"Anyone who has already given their details should let us know and also change their account password as soon as possible."

If students are caught out and lose money, they are entitled to compensation from the SLC.

If you receive a student loan-related phishing email, send it to for investigation.

Further reading/Key links

Protect your computer: Free Anti-Virus Software
Tax tips: 2010/11 Tax Breakdown