Universities up and down the UK are welcoming new and returning students, but HMRC has issued a warning about tax scams that are targeted towards students at this time of year. Students are seen as easy targets because a lot of them struggle for money, and like most of us, would jump at the chance of being given a tax rebate. But all is not as it seems…!
Fraudsters appear to be mimicking university email addresses but ending ‘.ac.uk’ to the end to their fake accounts. Students are seeing these emails and trusting their legitimacy, and are then disclosing personal information, including bank details, when there is a promise of money, such as a tax rebate.
These fraudsters are using student’s details to hack computers, set up direct debits, and even steal money. Online fraud can have devastating consequences, but you can avoid finding yourself in these situations by being extra vigilant.
If you receive an email that you weren’t expecting, and it is asking you for ANY personal information, contact your university directly, and explain what has happened. They will be able to tell you if the email was from them, or if it is one of the many scams aimed at students. You should never send your bank details via email because it is too easy for other people to get hold of.
Another critical point to remember is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
HMRC will never contact you via email about a tax refund. If you are due a tax refund, you will be sent a P800 (an official tax rebate form) through the post. If you do receive an email about a tax rebate, the best thing that you can do is delete it. Do not open any links, do not visit any websites included in the email, and do not reply. You can also report these emails to HMRC directly.
If you are unsure whether or not you are a victim of fraud, check out the examples at gov.uk, and report any suspicious activity.