HMRC is warning university students new to the world of working to be wary of potential scams.
With higher numbers joining university, we are likely to see more students take on part-time work. As many young people may be unfamiliar with HMRC and legitimate contact from the department could make them vulnerable to scams.
There have been almost one million reported scams to the HMRC over the past year, with nearly half including offers of false tax refunds or demands for tax payments – HMRC does not offer refunds or request personal data or payments by SMS or email.
Those behind such scams are generally trying to steal money or access personal information to sell on to others. Being a familiar brand, scammers abuse HMRC’s name to add credibility to their crimes.
Links, files and attachments can also download dangerous software onto a device. This can then gather personal data or lock the recipient’s machine until they pay an un-lock ransom.
Between April and May this year, 18 – 24-year-olds reported more than 5,000 phone scams to HMRC.
Head of Cyber Security Operations at HMRC, Mike Fell, said:
“Most students won’t have paid tax before, and so could easily be duped by scam texts, emails or calls either offering a ‘refund’ or demanding unpaid tax.
“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’.”