Thousands of students across universities in the UK are being targeted by scammers in an effort to steal money and personal details.
These “phishing” emails use addresses such as ‘uc.ac.uk’ to mislead students into believing that they are owed a tax rebate from HMRC and can claim this money through a link included in the email. This link leads to a website for students to enter their banking and personal details which will then be stolen from the victim.
Phishing is defined by Action Fraud as a method used by fraudsters to access valuable personal details, such as usernames and passwords.
The financial secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, has stated that “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 [firstname.lastname@example.org]. “
HMRC is encouraging all students to be aware of the potential tax scams and for universities to raise awareness about the issue.
Here are HMRC and Action Fraud’s tips to avoid being caught out by “phishing” scam emails:
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.
Stay safe and know your source. Do not give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you were not expecting.
Use your spam filter. If you detect a phishing email, mark the message as spam and delete it. This ensures that the message cannot reach your inbox in future.
Take action. Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to email@example.com and texts to 60599.
If you suffer financial loss, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use its online fraud reporting tool. Check gov.uk for information on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact.