HMRC warns university students over tax scams

As students return to university for the start of the new academic year, HMRC has written to universities through Universities UK, asking to help ensure their students know how to spot a scam. 


With universities taking a blended approach to online and face-to-face tuition this year, and an increase in remote working due to the pandemic, students could be left particularly exposed to fraudsters.


First year students might also be more vulnerable to these types of scams due to their limited experience of the tax system.


During August, HMRC received reports from the public of more than 74,800 scam emails, text messages and phone calls. Nearly 41,300 of these specifically offered bogus tax rebates.


Thousands of these scams were targeted at students and the criminals involved appear to have obtained their personal university email addresses by unlawful means. These scams often offer fake tax refunds or help with claiming Covid-19 related financial support.


Phishing email messages can also provide a gateway for criminals. Students who provide personal details in response can end up inadvertently giving access to important accounts, like email or online banking, leaving scammers free to commit fraud and steal their money.



Blog post uploaded 12 Oct 2020