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Private school parents - are you a target for cyber-crime?

Statistics suggest that parents paying for private school fees could be the latest target for cyber criminals.

Over the last few years, there have been a number of incidents of school fees being intercepted by third parties.1 With school fee’s typically being between £4,000 and £10,000, it makes them an appealing target to fraudsters. In one simple email, hackers can fool you into diverting payments, leaving parents short and schools without payment.2

Between September 2017 and March 2018, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau reported 48 schools had been targeted by scams. Of those 12 schools lost a total of £145,124.3

Scams like this are most common over holiday periods, so it’s important to stay alert. Here’s some top tips on how you can learn to spot fraudulent emails:

5 steps to spotting fraudulent emails

1. Check the email address

The first thing to do when you get an email requesting payment, is to check the sender. Make sure the address is recognisable. If you can, check it against previous payment emails from your school.4

2. It’s poorly written

Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors always send up red flags. If you receive an email riddled with errors, there’s a strong chance it’s a scam.4

3. Suspicious payment method

Earlier this year, a fee-paying school was targeted in a cyber-attack offering parents a 25% discount when paying with Bitcoin currency.5 Never commit to paying by an unusual payment method before checking with the school directly.

4. Asking for confidential information

Never share your bank details, passwords or any other personal information over email.4

5. Urgent tone

Scam emails are often designed to make you panic. Never feel rushed into a payment. Always take the time to think about whether an email is unusual.4

Over summer, hackers take advantage of lax security. Knowing alerts won’t be raised until schools reopen, hackers have time to transfer your payment from the schools account, making it harder for your payment to be traced and little chance of it being returned.2

However, there are other measures you can take to ensure your school payments are covered, even in the event of a scam.

The benefits of Cyber insurance

Many schools do not have insurance in place to cover this type of fraud. This means that any financial loss resulting from fraudulent activity remains your responsibility.

Personal Cyber Insurance covers you for any financial loss caused as a result of fraudulent activity in your home systems.

This includes compensation for:

  • Money taken from any of your accounts
  • The costs of any goods, services or property you might have lost
  • Any outstanding credit arrangements you have made.

A good Cyber Policy will also cover you for any legal costs involved in proving a transaction or contractual agreement was made fraudulently. So you don’t have to worry about losing your child’s school place, even in the event of a cyber scam.

To find out more about Cyber Insurance, contact your local Jelf advisor today.

Sources:

www.ecclesiastical.com/independent-schools-insights
www.telegraph.co.uk/fraudsters-private-school-parents/
schoolsweek.co.uk/schools-lose-to-fraudsters
staysafeonline.org/5-ways-spot-phishing
www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne

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