The new year has seen the emergence of email scams targeting several UK universities, in which students are offered bogus tax refunds. The scam emails say that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) owes the student money and asks them to enter their details on a website to receive a refund.
Fraudsters can use a range of methods to target students, most commonly by sending fake tax refunds to students’ university email addresses (‘ac.uk’). Depending on the details a criminal is able to obtain from a student, they could steal money, set up direct debits, make purchases for valuable goods on online sites or even take control of their computer – being able to access functions such as their webcam.
HMRC’s advice to students:
How can you spot a scam?
1. Recognise the signs – genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.
2. Stay safe – don’t give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren’t expecting.
3. Take action – forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to firstname.lastname@example.org and texts to 60599.
4. Check GOV.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams and to recognise genuine HMRC contact.
5. If you think you have received an HMRC-related phishing/bogus email or text message, you can check it against the examples published on GOV.UK.
6. Contact your bank immediately if you believe you’ve submitted card details to a scammer and report to Action Fraud if you suffer financial loss.