Students warned about tax scams

The Government wants universities to educate students on how to avoid becoming a victim

Students starting university this year are being warned by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that they could be targeted by a fresh wave of tax scams.

As new students start the academic year, they can be particularly vulnerable to cybercrime.

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 the work of fraudsters.

HMRC has written to universities, through Universities UK, asking them to help ensure their students know how to spot a scam.

Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

"Cyber criminals use every method they can to steal money and personal data from students.
"We are concerned that remote working because of Covid-19 could lead to more tax scams targeting a new and potentially vulnerable university intake.
"HM Revenue and Customs is doing everything it can to clamp down on cyber fraud, but students also need to be vigilant.
"We would urge university principals to take a lead in helping to protect their students from these cyber criminals by raising awareness of what to look out for."

Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:

"The security and welfare of students is always a priority for universities. The message to students, at what is a particularly stressful time, is to remain vigilant and question anything that seems unusual.
"Any student who fears their account may have been misused is encouraged to speak to either university support services, their bank, or to the police via Action Fraud."

HMRC's advice:


  • Take a moment to think before parting with your information or money.

  • Don’t give out private information or reply to text messages, and don’t download attachments or click on links in texts or emails you weren’t expecting


  • It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests - only criminals will try to rush or panic you

  • Search ‘scams’ on GOV.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact and how to avoid and report scams


  • Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to and texts to 60599

  • Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, and report it to Action Fraud

Examples of current scamming frauds can be found on GOV.UK.

HMRC prevents scams by:

  • Automatically identifying most cyber scams before customer have even reported them

  • Asking Internet Service Providers to remove the malicious web pages or phishing websites

  • Deploying innovative technologies to prevent misleading and malicious communications ever reaching citizens

  • Warning the public through sharing details and examples of genuine and scam communications on GOV.UK and through the media

  • Maintaining channels through which people can report suspicious contact, at and 60599 for texts

  • Working with the telecoms industry to automatically block spoofed numbers

  • Tackling misleading websites designed to make customers pay for services that should be free or low cost, often charging customers for connection to HMRC phone helplines

  • Working closely with national and international law enforcement organisations

Find the full press release from HMRC here.


Please report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).

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