Counter Fraud

Our commitment to ensuring that the opportunities for fraud are reduced to the lowest possible level.

Counter Fraud Service Counter Fraud Service

Like every other financial organisation, we have to recognise that we could be a target for fraudsters and, while the risk is unavoidable, we have to take precautions to limit it. If you need to contact us for advice or to report fraudulent activity, SLC have a dedicated Fraud Prevention Team.

The Student Loans Company (SLC) already have a number of checks in place that help prevent fraud:

  • The Verification of Household Income (VHI) checking service allows the income of the student's sponsor/s to be validated via HMRC.
  • The applicant's National Insurance Number (NINO) is also matched against the Department for Work and Pensions' records.
  • SLC's Counter Fraud Services (CFS) team also utilise a specialised fraud search engine to identify application trends, which helps to detect and disrupt fraud. Data relating to the fraud cases encountered by CFS is registered on CIFAS - the UK's fraud prevention service.

However, with growing numbers of customers using SLC's online services comes an increased risk of fraudulent activity, with fraudsters now becoming much more innovative in their approach.

To be eligible for student finance, applicants must meet stringent eligibility criteria relating to UK residency, the course and institution they are attending and any previous study they have undertaken. Once these factors have been established, the main types of fraud encountered by CFS are:

  • Identity Fraud

Identity fraud occurs when an individual takes, uses, sells or transfers the personal identifying information of someone else. In some cases, SLC may receive genuine documents but these may be stolen and the person whose identity has been compromised will not be aware that their data is being used to obtain student finance.

In recent times, CFS have been instrumental in helping to secure the successful prosecutions of identity fraudsters via the Police and the Home Office. Some of these cases have attracted a lot of publicity from local and national press.

  • Household Composition

SLC offer a number of means tested loan and grant elements of student finance. These can present a risk if false information is provided by a student and/or a third party that leads to an inflated loan or grant being paid out.

A recent example of this occurred when CFS picked up two applications belonging to a father and son. On the father's application, his wife was listed as a sponsor. However, she had also sponsored her son's application as 'single'. After investigation, the son was made ineligible as a result of claiming that his mother was 'single' when she was, in fact, married and supporting her husband's application. Furthermore, the sponsor then applied for financial support and was made ineligible due to her previous conduct.

  • Grant related: Childcare / DSA fraud

A student can knowingly embellish their costs in order to gain increased levels of grant funding.

Regular audits of childcare applications are carried out, allowing irregularities to be identified. In Academic Year 2013/14, CFS investigated a highlighted case where the student had inflated weekly costs to a total sum of over £3800 by claiming for weeks when her child was not in care. This student had also forged the childcare application form using the details of a former employee of the nursery. Following a thorough investigation, CFS were able to terminate the student's period of eligibility - effectively stopping all funding for that academic year - and make her unfit for any future funding. The application was also reassessed, leaving this individual with a large overpayment which must be paid back.

When fraudulent activity is detected, CFS attempt to recover any payments made as a result. Full or partial elements of support can be removed and overpayments are vigorously pursued. Accounts can be flagged to allow any future applications to be fully vetted before being approved.

CFS also give due consideration to referring cases to the Police for prosecution if there is adequate, corroborated evidence and it is considered to be in the public interest.