Asked to picture a typical scam victim, and you’ll probably conjure up an image of an elderly and frail person. However, an email scam which specifically targeted university students demonstrates that we’re all vulnerable, even the young and more internet savvy.
In 2018, HRMC reported a dramatic increase in the number of students at many UK universities who were being directly targeted by a fake tax refund phishing email.
The fake emails used addresses that can appear legitimate such as “uc.ac.uk”, and were HMRC branded to trick the students into believing that they were genuine. Links within the emails redirected the students to websites where they were asked to provide personal and financial information.
Thousands of students reported being affected by the scam, but HMRC believes cases are under-reported so there may be many more.
HMRC said that it was the first time the authority has seen a tax scam focusing on students of such high numbers.
Advice from HMRC
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information and advice about email scams, please visit the Get Safe Online website https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-your-computer/spam-and-scam-email/