HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) reported that thousands of students have been targeted by hackers, who have tried to obtain their financial details.
The scammers are using a fake email address that can appear legitimate such as “uc.ac.uk”, which may inform people they are owed money, thus encouraging individuals to send across their personal details.
The emails and texts often include links that redirect students to websites where their data is then stolen.
Fraudulent emails often replicate the branding of GOV.UK, in an attempt to seem authentic. However, a common sign to be aware of is the recipient’s name and email address is often repeated several times within the body of the email.
The Financial Secretary of the Treasury, Mel Stride 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.”
HMRC are encouraging all universities to raise awareness of the scam and have reassured them that they were already taking action to protect students.
Between April and September 2018, HMRC requested that 7,500 phishing sites be deactivated, a significant increase from the 5,200 similar requests made in the same period in 2017.
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.”