HMRC is warning new students starting university that they could be targeted by scammers trying to steal their money and personal details. As new students start the academic year, they can be particularly vulnerable to tax scams. This is especially prevalent if they have a part-time job and are new to interacting with HMRC. This year, there is a significant increase in the numbers of students attending university and means that more young people may choose to take on part-time work.
Many tax scams are directly targeting university students. Fraudulent emails and texts will regularly include links which take students to websites where their information can be stolen. Between April and May this year, 18- to 24-year olds reported more than 5,000 phone scams to HMRC.
These scams often offer fake tax refunds which HMRC does not offer by SMS or email. Students can also be approached to act as ‘money mules’, with offers of various rewards for transferring funds through their own, genuine financial accounts, inadvertently laundering criminal funds.
Commenting on the warning, HMRC’s Head of Cyber Security Operations at HMRC, said:
‘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’ .