Students are being warned to watch out for a fresh wave of bogus tax refund emails – which often contain “scam warnings”.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said there was a sudden spike in students reporting suspected scams received at their official university email addresses last week.
Some bogus emails tell the recipient to avoid scams and report suspect correspondence to HMRC.
HMRC said new scams targeting students often multiply – so it is warning students to take a pause and think before parting with their personal information.
The scam emails say that the student is owed a tax refund and invite them to click on a link to “complete the required form”.
They add: “If you do not complete the refund form now, you will not be able to claim your tax refund online.”
Are you a student or know someone who is? Scammers often send fake tax refunds imitating university email addresses ending in .ac.uk.— HM Revenue & Customs (@HMRCgovuk) September 28, 2019
HMRC will never tell you about tax refunds by email, text, or voicemail.
Please share and report suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org pic.twitter.com/y5oRhhjSgh
Criminals will then use the malicious link to harvest students’ personal data.
HMRC said the emails often include a “scam warning”, saying something along the lines of: “If you’re unsure an email is from HMRC do not reply to it or click on any links. Report the suspicious email to HMRC. To find out how go to GOV.UK and search for ‘Avoid and report internet scams and phishing’.”
The revenue body said it has asked internet service providers to take down malicious web pages associated with the scam and has alerted universities and the National Union of Students (NUS).
An HMRC spokeswoman said: “Last week saw a sudden spike in students reporting suspected scams received at their official university email addresses.
“Our experience shows that when new scams emerge targeting students, they often multiply. We therefore want to warn students to take a moment to think before parting with their personal information.
“If someone emails, texts or calls claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks for personal or bank details, it might be a scam.”
Here are some tips from HMRC for thwarting a scam:
– Take a moment to think before parting with your information or money.
Genuine organisations like banks or HMRC will not normally contact you out of the blue to ask for personal details.
– It is OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
– Check gov.uk for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact and how to avoid and report scams. If you think you have received an HMRC-related phishing or bogus email or text message, you can check it against examples on gov.uk.
– Use the latest software, apps and operating systems on your phone, tablet or laptop. Update these regularly or set your devices to automatically update so you do not have to worry.
– Report it. Forward suspect emails claiming to be from HMRC to email@example.com and texts to 60599. Contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen victim to a scam, and report it to Action Fraud.