HMRC warns university students of scams

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HMRC is warning university students to be wary of potential scams, especially if they have a part-time job and are new to interacting with the department.

University students taking part-time jobs are at increased risk of falling victim to scams, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is warning.

HMRC is warning university students to be wary of potential scams, especially if they have a part-time job and are new to interacting with the department.

Higher numbers of students going to university this year means more young people may choose to take on part-time work. Being new to interacting with HMRC and unfamiliar with genuine contact from the department could make them vulnerable to scams.

In the past year almost one million people reported scams to HMRC.

Nearly half of all tax scams offer fake tax refunds, which HMRC does not offer by SMS or email. The criminals involved are usually trying to steal money or personal information to sell on to others. HMRC is a familiar brand, which scammers abuse to add credibility to their scams.

Links or files in emails or texts can also download dangerous software onto a computer or phone. This can then gather personal data or lock the recipient’s machine until they pay a ransom.

Between April and May this year, 18 to 24-year olds reported more than 5,000 phone scams to HMRC.

Mike Fell, Head of Cyber Security Operations at HMRC, said, “Most students won’t have paid tax before, and so could easily be duped by scam texts, emails or calls either offering a ‘refund’ or demanding unpaid tax.

“Students, who will have had little or no interaction with the tax system might be tricked into clicking on links in such emails or texts.

“Our advice is to be wary if you are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or personal information. We see high numbers of fraudsters contacting people claiming to be from HMRC. If in doubt, our advice is – do not reply directly to anything suspicious, but contact HMRC through GOV.UK straight away and search GOV.UK for ‘HMRC scams’.”


 

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Written by

Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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