University students are being targeted by scammers through Covid-19 phishing and SMS text messages warns the National Cyber Security Centre.
The five main scams are;
- Fake URL links claiming to direct you to the Gov.uk website to claim relief payments
- Lockdown fines suggesting you have breached government regulations
- Offers of health supplements that will prevent you from being infected
- Financial support that appears to be from your bank
- Fake text messages claiming to be from the NHS advising individuals that they are eligible to apply for a vaccine, but asking for sensitive data such as financial information to make a payment
Never click links within emails or text messages as these can link you to fake websites and never call back an unrecognised SMS phone number as this could lead you to speaking directly to a criminal or criminal organisation.
Use the official Gov.uk site to find information on Covid support and support services
A legitimate organisation won’t ask for sensitive information or payment for the vaccination. The vaccination is only available on the NHS for free to people in priority groups.
If you think that you have fallen victim to a scam, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use it’s online fraud reporting tool.
You can forward suspicious emails to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org and report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726.
Tax refund scam
University students are being targeted by scammers with fake tax refunds in an effort to steal money and personal details, warns HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
HMRC issued the following advice:
- Genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your pin, password or bank details
- Do not give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you were not expecting
- Forward suspect emails claiming to be from HMRC to email@example.com and texts to 60599
- Check gov.uk for information on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact.
- If you think you have received an HMRC-related phishing or bogus email or text message, you can check it against examples published on gov.uk
- Contact your bank immediately if you believe you have submitted card details to a scammer and report to Action Fraud if you suffer financial loss.
Often HMRC related email scams spoof the branding of gov.uk and well known credit cards in attempt to look authentic. The recipient’s name and email address may be included several times within the email itself. Fraudulent emails and texts will regularly include links which take students to websites where their information can be stolen.
If you think that you’ve fallen victim to a financial scam, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use its online fraud reporting tool.
Scams targeting international students.
Someone is telephoning students and pretending to be from the Home Office or from the Police. The caller tells the student that there is a problem with their visa and that they have to pay if they want to stay in the UK. The caller asks for the student’s bank details so that they can help to sort the problem. They then use the bank details to take all the money out of the student’s account.
Alternatively, someone is telephoning students and pretending to be their Embassy or Consulate in the UK. The caller tells the student there may be a problem with bank account of their bank card and that there is a suspicious of fraud on the account. The caller asks for the student’s bank details so that they can help to sort the problem. They then use the bank details to take all the money out of the student’s account.
- The caller may know your name, address or passport number.
- The number they call you from may match a genuine number, like the Home Office number (0207 035 4848) and they may ask you to check this on the Home Office website.
- The caller may ask you not to use the internet, or not to speak to anyone else and stay on the line.
- The caller may ask you to pay using Western Union or MoneyGram, or to get cash or gift cards.
- The caller will say that if you cannot pay you will be deported and that they will come to your home immediately to fetch you.
Please remember that the Home Office, the Embassy and the UK Police will never call you to ask for payments or for your personal details. Do not make payments or give information to anyone who calls you about your visa like this.
If you get a call from someone you are not sure about, end the call and don’t use the phone again for at least 15 minutes, because the caller may still be on the line. If the caller is genuine this will not be a problem. If you want to contact a friend, use a different phone or send a text.
If this happens to you, you can report it to Action Fraud
And you can report it to Lincolnshire Police
If this has happened to you, please tell us about it. You can contact the Student Support Centre on firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about scams and fraud, please see the UKCISA website.