With the tax credits renewals deadline approaching, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is warning taxpayers of a potential surge in fake ‘phishing’ emails from fraudsters.
Such a phishing email will inform the recipient that they are due a tax rebate.
It will provide a click-through link to a cloned replica of the HMRC website, requiring the recipient to enter their credit or debit card details.
It’s these personal details that the fraudsters then use to try to take money from the account using the details provided. The victims are then left with empty bank accounts and the worry that their personal information has been sold on to other organised criminal gangs.
More than 46,000 phishing emails have been reported by customers since the first tax credit renewal forms were issued in April. and during this period of time HMRC helped shut down more than 150 scam websites.
Joan Wood, Director of HMRC Online and Digital, said: “We currently only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post. We don’t use telephone calls, emails or external companies in these circumstances. If anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC, please 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 two years, 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 not to click on website links contained in suspicious emails or open attachments and to follow the advice on www.getsafeonline.co.uk.
If you believe that you have been the victim of an email scam, you need to report the matter to your bank/card issuer as soon as possible.