New university students are the prime targets of new fake tax refund scams according to new warnings issued to UK universities by the HMRC.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is contacting various UK universities warning new students about that fake tax refunds could result in personal details and student’s money being stolen.
More than 620,000 reports of tax-related email scams were reported to HMRC last year, with thousands being targeted primarily at a student audience.
HMRC helped in the take down of over 12,000 malicious websites linked to phishing and financial scams.
HMRC is warning new students that a various methods could be used to obtain private information, most commonly using counterfeit email addresses that are seemingly legitimate to avoid detection.
The company is also encouraging new students enrolling at university this year to maintain cyber awareness and to report anything that seems suspicious.
Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, believes that the warnings sent by HMRC will be beneficial.
He said: “The security and welfare of students is always a top priority for universities.”
“The message to students is to remain vigilant and question anything that seems unusual and we would encourage any student who fears their account may have been misused to speak to either their university support services, banks, or to the police.”
Chris Skidmore MP, Universities Minister, also believes that the information provided by HMRC will be beneficial.
“As hundreds of thousands of new students start their life-changing journey at university this month, it is absolutely right that they are made aware of the risks of tax scams.”
“I welcome the work by HMRC and Universities UK who are encouraging institutions to inform students about this issue.”
HMRC has also warned UK universities that these scams may be particularly appealing to students because of a lack of experience with the tax system and a student budget.
These scams have also been reported to have taken place over the phone, with over 100,000 reports of tax-related spam calls being reported last year.
Students are prompted to contact HMRC if they receive any suspicious emails or phone calls, claiming to be offering refunds or tax payouts.
HMRC’s advice for students:
Recognise the signs – Genuine organisations will never ask for personal details like your banking information out of the blue.
Stay safe – Avoid downloading attachments or clicking on links from unexpected emails.
Take action – Contact HMRC if you think you’ve received any fake scam emails, and contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve given out your personal details to any scammers.
By Faith Pring
Feature image: Pixaby