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  1. ITV Report

University students targeted by tax scams

Sussex and Southampton Universities Photo: ITV Meridan

Fraudsters are bombarding Southampton and Sussex University students with large numbers of fake tax refund emails, according to HM Revenue and Customs.

The tax authority said it is the first time it has seen a tax scam attack directly targeting university students in such high volumes.

It's received thousands of fraud reports in just a few weeks from students at the universities and as well others across the country.

Scammers are apparently using seemingly legitimate university email addresses to appear convincing - such as "@uc.ac.uk".

Fake emails may promise people they are owed some money in an attempt to obtain their personal information and may appear to suggest that they are due a tax rebate.

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

HMRC said it's now encouraging all students to be aware of the potential tax scams and said it specifically encourages some universities to raise awareness about the issue.

Here are HMRC's tips to avoid being caught out by "phishing" scam emails:

  • Recognise the signs - genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your Pin, password or bank details.
  • Stay safe. Do not give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you were not expecting.
  • Take action. Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC tophishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and texts to 60599.
  • If you suffer financial loss, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use its online fraud reporting tool.
  • Check gov.uk for information on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact.

The tax authority said it has used cutting-edge technology to block half a billion phishing emails since 2016.