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Thousands of students a target of tax scams, warns HMRC

A close up with of a HMRC tax return.
Credit: TaxRebate.org.uk via Flickr
A close up with of a HMRC tax return.
Credit: TaxRebate.org.uk via Flickr


Thousands of University students could be at risk of targeted attacks by scammers using fake tax refunds to steal money and personal details, warn HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).


Thousands of fraud reports have been submitted by students across the UK in the past few weeks, according to HMRC. The scammers are using seemingly legitimate university email addresses (for example @uc.ac.uk) to avoid detection.


The tax authority said that hundreds of universities are being targeted, and that this is the highest volume of university students they’ve ever seen directly attacked by a tax scam.


Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP, 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.”


While the University of York was not on the list of institutions that need to take immediate action, HMRC are warning all students to be aware of possible tax scams.


Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said, “Often HMRC related email scams spoof the branding of GOV.UK and well known credit cards in attempt to look authentic. The recipient’s name and email address may be included several times within the email itself.”


HMRC are asking people to forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and any texts to 60599.


If you suffer financial loss, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use its online fraud reporting tool and check GOV.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact.