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The tax scam targeting university students: what to look out for

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19/11/2018
Scammers are targeting university students with fake tax refund emails in an effort to steal money and personal details, HMRC has warned.

The fraudsters are using seemingly genuine university email addresses – for example ‘@uc.ac.uk’ – in order to avoid detection.

The tax authority has received thousands of fraud reports in the space of a few weeks from students across the UK.

This is the first time that HMRC has seen a tax scam attack directly targeting university students in such high volumes.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, said:“HMRC will never inform you about tax refunds by email, text or voicemail. If you receive one of these messages it is a scam. Do not click on any links in these messages, and forward them to HMRC’s phishing email address.

“Although HMRC is cracking down hard on internet scams, criminals will stop at nothing to steal personal information. I’d encourage all students to become phishing aware – it could save you a lot of money.”

Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said: “Devious fraudsters will try every trick in the book to convince victims to hand over their personal information, often with devastating consequences. It is vital that students spot the signs of fraudulent emails to avoid falling victim by following HMRC’s advice.

“Together with HMRC, we work tirelessly to stop fraudsters in their tracks and to prevent unsuspecting members of the public from falling victim to fraud.”

What to look out for:

Often, HMRC-related email scams spoof the branding of gov.uk and well-known credit cards in an attempt to look authentic. The recipient’s name and email address may be included several times within the email itself.

Fraudulent emails and texts regularly include links which take students to websites where their information can be stolen.

But remember, HMRC will never email or text you about a refund.

As with so many things, the golden rule is: if something is too good to be true, it probably is.

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