HMRC calls on universities to protect students from tax scams

26 September 2019


HMRC is writing to UK universities advising them to warn new students about tax scams sent by fraudsters to steal students’ money and personal details.


You may have employees who are also students so you could help to raise awareness across your business.


Over 620,000 tax-related email scams were reported to HMRC last year – up by 20,000 on the previous year – including thousands of reports the department received about scam emails targeting students.


HMRC wants to ensure all students new to university this year are cyber aware for when repeat attacks hit their inboxes.


Fraudsters can use a range of methods to target students, most commonly by sending fake tax refunds using seemingly legitimate university email addresses - often ending in ‘’ - in order to avoid detection.


Depending on the details a criminal is able to obtain from a student, they could steal money, set up direct debits, make purchases for valuable goods through online sites or even take control of their computer – being able to access functions such as their webcam.


Jesse Norman MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:


“Cyber criminals use every means they can to steal money and personal data from students. That’s why HMRC is asking all UK universities to make sure students know how to protect themselves.


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. I would urge university principals to take a lead in helping to protect students from these cyber thieves.”




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