New Wigan students are vulnerable to tax scams

Beware tax scams
Beware tax scams

New Wigan students starting university this year could be targeted in a fresh wave of tax scams.

HM Revenue & Customs is writing to UK universities advising them to warn new students about tax scams sent by fraudsters to steal students’ money and personal details.

More than 620,000 tax-related email scams were reported to HMRC last year – up 20,000 on the previous year – including thousands of reports the department received about scam emails targeting students.

It wants to ensure all students new to university this year are cyber aware for when repeat attacks hit their inboxes.

Fraudsters can use a range of methods to target students, most commonly by sending fake tax refunds using seemingly legitimate university email addresses (often ending in “ac.uk”) in order to avoid detection.

Depending on the details a criminal is able to obtain from a student, they could steal money, set up direct debits, make purchases for valuable goods on online sites or even take control of their computer – being able to access functions such as their webcam.

HMRC advised university leaders that students are “more likely to be taken in” by tax scams because students may have “had little or no interaction with the tax system”.

This could make the offer of a tax refund from a scammer seem attractive, especially when on a budget.

If students receive an email offering money sent to them by someone claiming to be HMRC and it seems too good to be true, then they should report it to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk.