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How can I keep my money and online payments safe?

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Fraudsters typically select international students who are looking for ways to make their payments to the University, but will target anyone they think they can make money from.

What can happen?

You may be contacted by someone offering to pay your fees on your behalf to the University. They may even offer to show you evidence that they have paid your fees before they ask you to pay them. These individuals may look like they are from a company or even the University, stating you need to pay an amount to secure your place.

Known Scams

Money Mule

You may be offered a fee for allowing someone to use your bank account to transfer money through. This may be money laundering and is often used to fund serious criminal activity. Money laundering is a criminal offence in the UK which could result in you being prosecuted and your bank account being frozen.

Purchasing currency from non-regulated or ‘black’ markets

If you are thinking about using a non-regulated market to pay for your fees, this could also be seen as money laundering under UK law, which may lead to investigation by authorities.

Third party payer scam

A third party offers to make the payment for you at a discounted rate and will use stolen payment cards to make the payment to the University. They may even show you the receipt as proof to make you believe they are genuine.

Once the cardholder realises their card has been targeted, the payment is then recovered from the University and the fees are then outstanding – for which you will be liable to pay for (again).

What to look out for:

Individuals or companies contacting you on social media or messaging apps such as Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp and WeChat advertising their payment services. Offers to pay your fees on their behalf, which will often include:

  • Offers of discounted rates for using their services
  • Agreeing to meet you, or your family members in person, so that you can pay in cash
  • Offer to put you in touch with other students who have already used their services, so that you feel they are a safe method to pay your fees
  • Put unnecessary pressure on by offering one-time special rates if you ‘pay now’

Protect yourself

There are simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your money from fraud:

  • Always pay your tuition fees direct to the University using one of our approved methods of payment
  • Never share your student login with anyone
  • Never share your bank account or debit/credit card details unless you know and trust the person
  • Do not allow someone you don’t know to transfer money through your bank account
  • Be wary of any adverts or messages on social media. The University would never contact you on these platforms to ask you to pay any fees
  • If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is - so walk away!
  • Refer to the University policy for our approved methods of payment, or check the website for announcements on new methods of payment
  • If you are contacted by someone and are not sure if they are a member of the University, do not reply to the message and contact the Revenue Team direct by email at finance.revenues@sunderland.ac.uk or +44 (0)191 515 2455
  • Do not click any links in messages sent to you, or use any contact details provided in these messages
  • Find all contact details through our website or call the main university switchboard on +44 (0)191 515 2000 who will put you through to someone who can help.

We recommend you never pay a third party, and always pay direct to the University. There is a risk that you could lose your money, which may mean you risk losing your place on your course and your visa being revoked.

We recommend you always make payments to the University using a card or bank account that is in your name, using one of the approved methods of payment either via our online PayPortal or by direct bank transfer.

If you have been approached by individuals offering to make payment for you, or a discount by paying your fees over to them, never hand over any funds. The University does not offer discounts this way. This is a scam and you could lose all the money you pay out to them.

Published: 4 July 2022