Ahead of the European Parliamentary Elections taking place on Thursday, six of the West Midlands candidates took part in a panel debate at the University of BirminghamWritten by Tom Leaman on 22nd May 2019
Students Warned of Tax Scams
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have warned that university students are being targeted by scammers with fake tax refunds to steal personal details and money
Using fake university email addresses, scammers are avoiding detection and duping students across the country.
Thousands of fraud reports have been received by the tax authority from students from universities and colleges.
“Criminals will stop at nothing to steal personal information
Mel Stride MP and Financial Secretary to the Treasury said in a press release that HMRC will never inform the public about tax refunds via email, text or voice mail and encouraged students not to engage with these messages. Instead students should forward them to HMRC 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,’ Stride said.
Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith added: ‘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.
“It is vital that students spot the signs of fraudulent emails
‘Together with HMRC, we work tirelessly to stop fraudsters in their tracks and to prevent unsuspecting members of the public from falling victim to fraud.’
Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for cybercrime and fraud.
Masters International relations student Andreea Manduic received one of these fraud emails from an address ending in @lists.bham.ac.uk: ‘‘I was pretty sure that [the email] is phishing, even though I received that message on the uni email.’
“It looked like a fraud email as it was just layed out oddly
Similarly, Charlotte Staines a history student, received an email on the 10th October and said ‘it looked like a fraud email as it was just layed out oddly, and from a weird email address. I didn’t do anything with it I just ignored it.’
Many fraudulent emails feature the branding of GOV.UK and popular credit cards to look authentic. The students name and email address may also be repeated multiple times in the email. These emails and texts will usually feature links that will steal valuable information.
HMRC recommend that students never give out private information, reply to text messages or download attachments and click on email links. Students should never give out PIN, password or other bank details.
HMRC requested 7500 phishing sites be deactivated between April and September this year. This is compared to 5200 requests during the same period of 2017.
Universities are being encouraged to raise awareness of scams to make sure their students know what to look out for.
HMRC are requesting that 16 UK universities take immediate action in raising awareness. The University of Birmingham was missing from this list.