HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is warning taxpayers to be vigilant following a surge of fake ‘phishing’ emails sent out by fraudsters, following the 31 January Self Assessment tax return filing deadline.
The email informs the recipient they are due a tax rebate, and provides a click-through link to a replica of the HMRC website. The recipient is asked to provide their credit card details. Fraudsters then try to take money from the account using the details provided. Victims risk having their bank accounts emptied and their personal details sold on to other organised criminal gangs.
In the last three months, HMRC has shut down 99 websites that were responsible for sending out the fake tax rebate emails.
Chris Hopson, Director of Customer Contact at HMRC, said:
“As a matter of policy, HMRC will only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post. If anyone receives an email offering a tax rebate claiming to be from HMRC, we recommend they send it to firstname.lastname@example.org before deleting it permanently.”
HMRC thoroughly investigates phishing attacks and works with other law enforcement agencies in the UK and overseas. In the last 18 months, scam networks have been shut down in a number of countries, including Austria, Mexico, the UK, South Korea, the USA, Thailand and Japan.
HMRC strongly advises customers to:
- Check the advice published at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security to see if the email you have received is listed;
- Forward suspicious emails to HMRC at email@example.com and then delete it from your computer/mail account;
- Do not click on websites, links contained in suspicious emails or open attachments; and
- 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 atwww.hmrc.gov.uk/security/fraud-attempts.htm.
Notes to editors
1. The scam email often begins with a sentence such as “We have reviewed your tax return and our calculations of your last year’s accounts show a tax refund of XXXX is due.”
2. The current increase in scam emails is partly due to people following HMRC advice and forwarding them to the department’s online 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. Follow HMRC on Twitter at: @HMRCgovuk
Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
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