Tax Scams Targeting Students
University students have been warned by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) that fraudsters are targeting them with a wave of fake tax scams.
HMRC is warning new students starting university that they could be targeted by scammers trying to steal their money and personal details.
As new students start the academic year they can be particularly vulnerable to tax scams. Coupled with an increase in remote working due to the pandemic can leave students particularly exposed to the work of fraudsters. Fake emails, which use university addresses in a bid to appear legitimate, may tell people that they are owed money and encourage them to send their personal details.
Many tax scams are directly targeting university students. Fraudulent emails and texts will regularly include links which take students to websites where their information can be stolen.
HMRC has written to universities, via Universities UK, asking them to help ensure their students know how to spot a scam and to raise awareness of this issue. These scams can offer fake tax refunds or help with claiming Covid-related financial support. HMRC has also seen frauds offering spurious support with reclaiming council tax, purporting to be from TV Licensing, the DVLA or ‘GovUK’.
Students can also be approached to act as ‘money mules’, with offers of reward to transfer funds through their own, genuine financial accounts, inadvertently laundering criminal funds.
Commenting on the warning, the Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:
‘The security and welfare of students is always a priority for universities. The message to students, at what is a particularly stressful time, is to remain vigilant and question anything that seems unusual. Any student who fears their account may have been misused is encouraged to speak to either university support services, their bank, or to the police via Action Fraud.’
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