HMRC has warned students to be alert to a fresh wave of cyber frauds aimed at them offering bogus tax refunds.
"We would normally expect to see a small, regular flow of scam referrals from students but last week saw a sudden spike in students reporting suspected scams received at their official university email addresses. Our experience shows that when new scams emerge targeting students, they often multiply. We therefore want to warn students to take a moment to think before parting with their personal information."
- The scam emails say that the student is owed a tax refund and invite them to click on a link to ‘complete the required form’. They add: ‘If you do not complete the refund form now, you will not be able to claim your tax refund online.’
- The criminals will then use the malicious link to harvest students’ personal data.
- The emails include a scam warning, saying: ‘If you’re unsure an email is from HMRC do not reply to it or click on any links. Report the suspicious email to HMRC. To find out how go to GOV.UK and search for ‘Avoid and report internet scams and phishing’.’
- HMRC’s Customer Protection Team has been alerted to this fraud by students, who have been receiving the emails at their official university @xxx.ac.uk email addresses.
- HMRC has asked Internet Service Providers to take down malicious web pages associated with the scam and has alerted universities and the National Union of Students.
- UK universities are currently open and operating remotely, online.
HMRC’s advice to students:
- Take a moment to think before parting with your information or money.
- Genuine organisations like banks or HMRC won’t normally contact you out of the blue to ask for personal details.
- Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- Check GOV.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact and how to avoid and report scams.
- If you think you have received an HMRC-related phishing/bogus email or text message, you can check it against examples on GOV.UK.
- Use the latest software, apps and operating systems on your phone, tablet or laptop. Update these regularly or set your devices to automatically update so you don’t have to worry.
- Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to firstname.lastname@example.org and texts to 60599.
- Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, and report it to Action Fraud.