University students taking on part-time work could be vulnerable to scams this year, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has warned.

In early September, HMRC published advice for young people taking on part-time jobs to fund their university courses. Likely to be new to interacting with HMRC, they may lack the ability to distinguish genuine contact from scammers using a trusted brand to add credibility to their criminality.

The tip of the iceberg

In just one month between April and May this year, young people between the ages of 18 and 24 reported over 5,000 phone-based scams to HMRC. This is just the tip of the iceberg; in 2020, HMRC responded to 413,527 reports of phone scams – 92% up on 2019 (3) .

Falling for a scam can have extremely damaging consequences; clicking on links in emails or texts can result in your personal details being stolen, or malicious software being downloaded onto your device to steal money or personal data.

Trust your instinct

So, what can vulnerable young people do to avoid being tricked out of their hardearned cash? Mike Fell, Head of Cyber Security Operations at HMRC, commented, “Our advice is to be wary if you are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or personal information. If in doubt, our advice is – do not reply directly to anything suspicious, but contact HMRC through GOV.UK straight away and search GOV.UK for ‘HMRC scams’.” (3) HMRC, 2021

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