Tax scams can cost you – protect your cash
Students are urged to take every precaution not to be defrauded by scam emails purporting to come from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) or the Student Loans Company (SLC).
You will all be aware of various scams criminals use to try to access your bank accounts, whether by phone, email or someone simply standing behind you at the cash machine. As a student you cannot afford to lose money like this.
Of course, where there is the possibility of fraud, there is always danger and this is the case in relation to your tax affairs. Be careful if you receive emails that seem to be from HMRC. Normally HMRC do not correspond via text or email – and how would they have got your phone number or email address anyway? If you are not sure, then it is probably better not to open the text or email at all.
HMRC are well aware of the phishing emails that purport to come from them. They confirm that they never send notifications of a tax refund by email and never ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email. HMRC also warn against opening any of the links in those texts or emails. HMRC issued a press release on Friday 7 February 2014 that warns taxpayers not be caught out by email phishing scams. You can also find more information at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htm.
SLC also warns that students are targeted by scam emails and texts claiming to come from them, especially around main student loan instalments pay dates in April, September and January.
Heather Laing, Head of Counter Fraud Services at SLC, said:
“During National Student Money Week, we are keen to highlight that students must keep their personal and financial information safe, especially online.
“We monitor student loan ‘phishing’ very closely and close phishing sites down as soon as students alert us to them, to protect other students. If you do receive a phishing email, send it to us: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will investigate it.”
SLC also advises that instead of using any link included in an email or text, you should visit the website itself by typing in the full address www.slc.co.uk to avoid being directed to a fraudulent site. Be very careful if you receive an email asking you to update your details. SLC confirms they will never:
- ask you to update or confirm your bank details
- ask you to verify your account details through email
- provide you with a choice of secret question when you log in – they will only ever ask you the question you set with them
- ask you to update information such as your date of birth or provide your email address password.