Students who add strangers on Facebook are being warned of the dangers of online fraud as a new survey shows many share confidential information on the social networking site.

Most freshers have met less than half of their Facebook contacts, yet still post their phone number, email address and date of birth on their profile.

Sharing such details could lead to finance fraud, security experts at the Student Loans Company (SLC) have now warned.

More than half of students starting university this month will invite most new people they meet to be Facebook friends, while a third will give out their phone number to most fellow students.

The survey also found 73% will include their relationship status, 72% their date of birth, 41% their email address and 14% display their phone numbers.

Heather Laing, fraud manager at the SLC, said students are usually targeted at the time when their loan is paid in.

"Freshers are often managing their finances for the first time by themselves when they start university and we want them to make sure they're keeping their personal and financial information safe, especially online.

"Students are often targeted at the three main instalment dates in September, January and April and they need to work with us to ensure their identity and financial details are protected and not compromised."

She added the SLC monitors student loan "phishing" closely and shuts phishing sites down as soon as SLC staff are alerted to them.

The SLC has published its top tips on how to keep your finances safe:

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