Students nationwide have received emails about tax refunds that appear to be from HRMC
Students are being warned to be on alert for email phishing scams after hundreds of thousands of students have been targeted by emails asking for banking details. The emails end in ac.uk or gov.uk and use branding from local councils in an attempt to appear convincing.
If the victim is convinced they are then asked to input banking details, from which fraudsters can then steal money from accounts or sell the details on to others.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said that although phishing scams like this are rife, this is the first time they have seen a scam directly targeted at students.
Mel Stride MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: "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."
One student who fell victim to the scam told The Glasgow Guardian: "I'm usually quite on top of trying to avoid scams. I never leave my bank details on my online accounts and have noticed quite a few scam emails in the past. However, at the time I was distracted by uni work, and with hindsight, there were some quite obvious red flags - the idea that it was a tax refund being the most obvious, but I'm quite naive and often get confused with all the financial aspects of living as a student.
"The layout of the site was very convincing and looked very similar to the government website. The website asked for full name address and bank details, as well as my mother's maiden name. Luckily when I queried this with my boyfriend he warned me that this sounded suspect and I immediately cancelled my card, and luckily no money was lost.
"Obviously there are some clear red flags that perhaps on another occasion I would have noticed, but the very fact that I did fall victim to this highlights the need to raise awareness for other students."
Students receiving the emails should not click on the links but can report cases to HMRC by forwarding the emails to [email protected] or texts to 60599. Anyone who has lost money should contact Action Fraud at 0300 123 2040 or online at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk.