STUDENTS across north Wales and beyond are being warned that their first loan instalments could be targeted by fraudsters.

Ahead of Freshers' Week, which starts on Sunday September 16, the Student Loans Company (SLC) is warning all students to be on their guard and not be tricked into disclosing any financial details.

This includes being wary of clicking on links in emails, as fraudsters could be attempting to install malware on their systems.

The SLC’s Head of Counter Fraud Services, Fiona Innes, said: “Thousands of students are starting university in the coming weeks and fraudsters use this time to try and obtain access to the funding that is paid once they attend university.

"Freshers are particularly at risk of divulging their details as they may not be aware that the Student Loans Company will never ask a student for their personal or banking details by email or text message.

"We encourage anyone who receives a suspicious student finance email to send it to us so that we can investigate the sites and shut them down."

The Student Loans Company administers student finance on behalf of the Government and devolved administrations across the UK.

In the last two years, SLC's Counter Fraud Services team stopped over half a million pounds of student funding being stolen through phishing scams.

Spotting a phishing email isn’t always easy but the Student Loans Company

has five fraud facts to help freshers which are:

Be suspicious of any requests for personal or financial information. SLC will never ask you to confirm your bank details or login information by email.

Phishing emails are often sent in bulk and are unlikely to contain both your first and last name; they commonly start, ‘Dear Student’.

Check the quality of the communication - misspelling, poor punctuation and bad grammar are often tell-tale signs of phishing.

'Failure to respond in 24 hours will result in your account being closed' these types of messages are designed to convey a sense of urgency to prompt a quick response.

Anyone who receives a suspicious email they think may be a scam should send it to SLC can investigate the site and ensure it is shut down, to help protect other students.