Image Credit: Pixabay - mohamed_hassan
HM REVENUE and Customs (HMRC) has asked the UK to play an active role in warning their students about tax scams.
A letter has been sent to Vice Chancellors at the UK’s universities asking them to ensure their students know how to avoid being scammed. HMRC have voiced particular concern over current first-year students, as an increase in online learning could leave students vulnerable to cyber criminals.
The scams that students fall victim to normally pose as a useful service such as reclaiming council tax,TV licensing support, the DVLA, or 'GovUK’. More worryingly, this year has seen a rise in scams offering financial support due to Covid-19 which will try to appeal to vulnerable students who may be struggling financially due to lack of part-time work - an issue which has affected students nation-wide.
Criminals often use university email addresses to appear more legitimate, which students may not be privy to.
HMRC has suggested that there are a variety of ways scammers could contact students.
In August this year,they received 74 800 public reports of scam emails, text messages, and phone calls, and over half of these were related to tax rebates.‘Phishing’ is also popular with scammers as it can result in victims handing over sensitive information such as online banking details, enabling their accounts and data to be accessed. Nearly a third of all scams reported to HMRC last year were voice and phone scams, or ‘phishing’ meaning students should be wary of phonecalls from unknown sources.
HMRC asks students to be vigilant and universities to educate students on the dangers of cyber crime. Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury has stated that “We are concerned that remote working because of Covid-19 could lead to more tax scams targeting a new and potentially vulnerable university intake.”
“HM Revenue and Customs are doing everything they can to clampdown on cyber fraud, but students also need to be vigilant. We would urge university principals to take a lead in helping to protect their students from these cyber criminals by raising awareness of what to look out for.”
If students receive suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC,they should forward them firstname.lastname@example.org their bank immediately