Taxpayers should not respond to any email promising a tax repayment HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has warned.
Fraudsters are sending out thousands of such ‘phishing’ emails in the run up to the 31 January tax deadline.
The email tells the recipient they are due a tax refund and directs them to an online form to provide bank or credit card details for the “rebate” to be paid into. Anyone providing their details would have their accounts emptied and credit cards used to their limit. The victim also risks having their personal details sold on to other organised criminal gangs.
HMRC also warned of a massive upsurge in the phishing emails immediately following the 31 January deadline when many people will be waiting to hear about genuine tax refunds.
“We only ever contact customers who are due a refund in writing by post. We never use emails, telephone calls or external companies in these circumstances. We strongly urge anyone receiving such an email to send it to us for investigation before deleting it.”
HMRC thoroughly investigates these attacks and works with other law enforcement agencies in the UK and overseas. In the last year, scam networks have been shut down in a number of countries, specifically Austria, Mexico, the UK, Korea, the USA, Thailand and Japan.
HMRC strongly advises customers to:
- Check the advice published at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htm to see if the email you have received is listed
- Forward suspicious emails to HMRC at firstname.lastname@example.org and then delete it from your computer/mail account
- Do not click on websites, links contained in suspicious emails or open attachments
- Follow advice from www.getsafeonline.co.uk
If you have reason to believe that you have been the victim of an email scam, report the matter to your bank/card issuer as soon as possible. If in doubt please check with HMRC at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/fraud-attempts.htm
Notes to editors
1. The scam email often begins with a sentence such as ‘Following a review of your fiscal activity you are due a refund of tax of £XXX.’
2. The current increase in scam emails is partly due to people following HMRC advice and forwarding them to the departments on line reporting facility.
3. In September 2009, a record 83,000 phishing attempts were reported to HMRC. The following month, an unprecedented 10,000 reports of phishing scams were made to HMRC on one day alone.
4. To view the documents associated with this release, please use the link below:
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department