UNIVERSITY freshers have been warned to be aware of tax scams sent by fraudsters to steal their money.
HMRC is urging UK universities to tell all new students to be on the look for cyber attacks targeting their inboxes.
Fraudsters are using a range of devious schemes on freshers, including sending fake tax refunds using seemingly legitimate university email addresses.
These often end in “ac.uk” to help the crooks avoid detection and appear authentic.
As well as stealing money, fraudsters are after personal details so they can set up direct debts and even take control of computers.
Over 620,000 tax-related email scams were reported to HMRC last year – up by 20,000 on the previous year.
How to spot a scam and what to do
HMRC has revealed the following six tips to help you stay safe from fraudsters.
Recognise the signs: Genuine organisations will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.
Stay safe: Don’t give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren’t expecting.
Take action: Forward all suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to firstname.lastname@example.org and texts to 60599.
Use this guide: If you think you have received an HMRC-related phishing or bogus email or text message, you can check it against the examples shown in this guide.
Contact your bank: Get in contact with your bank immediately if you believe you’ve submitted card details to a scammer and report to Action Fraud if you suffer financial loss. You can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
HMRC reported how crooks copy the branding of GOV.UK and well-known organisations in an attempt to look real.
The deception can be so thought out, that the recipient’s name and email address may be included several times within the email.
Phone scams are also on the up, with criminals threatening taxpayers into handing over cash.
HMRC had over 100,000 reports of phone scams last year, compared to 400 in 2016.
This isn’t the only fraud warning issued this month, as we revealed how scammers are using new online security checks to trick people into handing over details.
Jesse Norman MP, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: “Cyber criminals use every means they can to steal money and personal data from students.
“HMRC is doing everything they can to clamp down on online fraud, but students and their families need to be vigilant, especially amid all the stresses and strains of going to university.”
Alistair Jarvis, chief executive at Universities UK, said: “The message to students is to remain vigilant and question anything that seems unusual.
“We would encourage any student who fears their account may have been misused to speak to either their university support services, banks, or to the police.”
The warning from HMRC comes after a huge rise in the number of child money mules as criminals target kids on Instagram and Snapchat.
There’s also a new robocall scam where crooks imitate voices of loved ones using deepfake technology to trick you into sending cash.
Other scams to watch out for include fake Amazon refund emails that allow crooks to steal your bank details.
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