Falkirk students face ‘HMRC’ scammers threat

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Further education students in Falkirk need to be on the alert for scammers trying to fleece them through fake tax refunds, says Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

HMRC says this is the largest direct attack on students it has seen, with thousands of fraud attempts being reported in just a few weeks across the UK.

Criminals are using seemingly legitimate university email addresses (for example ‘@uc.ac.uk’) in order to avoid detection.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP, 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.

“Although HMRC is cracking down hard on internet scams, criminals will stop at nothing to steal personal information.

“I’d encourage all students to become phishing aware - it could save you a lot of money.”

Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said: “Devious fraudsters will try every trick in the book to convince victims to hand over their personal information, often with devastating consequences.

“It is vital that students spot the signs of fraudulent emails to avoid falling victim by following HMRC’s advice.

HMRC-related e-mail scams often spoof the branding of GOV.UK and well known credit cards in an attempt to look authentic. The recipient’s name and email address may be included several times within the email itself.

Fraudulent emails and texts will regularly include links which take students to websites where their information can be stolen.

Between April and September this year, HMRC requested that 7,500 of these phishing sites be deactivated.

This compares to around 5,200 requests during the same period in 2017.