Sun Oct 11 2020
HMRC issue a warning to students returning to University
HMRC have issued a warning to students for this academic year as they fear a combination of online and face-to-face tuition could leave students at risk of cyber scammers. It’s thought first year students could be particularly susceptible due to their limited experiences with the UK’s tax system.
HMRC contacted Universities UK and asked them to issue advice to all their students on how to spot a cyber-criminal and the types of scam they might attempt.
In Aug alone, HMRC received 74,800 complaints around scam emails, SMS and phone calls, 41,300 of which related to fake tax refunds.
A large portion of these were actively targeting students, with the concern being that cyber-actors have somehow obtained personal information, including emails, of students.
Many of the emails offered financial support for students struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cyber criminals use every method they can to steal money and personal data from students. We are concerned that remote working, because of Covid-19, could lead to more tax scams targeting a new and potentially vulnerable university intake. HMRC are doing everything they can to clamp down 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.
Emails scams, known as phishing, can often give access much more lucrative data for cyber criminals.
Students providing an email address for a fake tax refund can unwittingly give these criminals access to much more important accounts like their online banking or email, leaving the cyber-actors free to commit extensive identity fraud.
The message to students, at what is a particularly stressful time, is to remain vigilant and question anything that seems unusual. Any student who fears their account may have been misused is encouraged to speak to either university support services, their bank, or to the police via Action Fraud.
Sun Oct 11 2020