HMRC issues phishing alert

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is warning taxpayers to be on their guard against fraudulent phishing emails.

A total of 74,743 scam emails were reported to HMRC’s dedicated phishing email account between April and September, a 70 per cent increase on the same period in 2013. Over the same period, HMRC worked with other agencies to help close down more than 4,000 websites sending out the emails.

The emails promise a tax refund, and often ask for a recipient’s name, address, date of birth, bank and credit card details. Once the victim has provided the information, money can be stolen from their bank account and their details sold to other criminal gangs, which can lead to identity theft.

Scam emails often begin with a sentence such as: “We have reviewed your tax return; according to our calculations of your last year’s accounts a tax refund of XXXX is due”.

Steve Singh, deputy head of operations in HMRC’s Digital Security team, said on 20 October: “HMRC never contacts customers who are due a tax refund by email – we always send a letter through the post.

“If you receive an email which claims to be from HMRC, and which offers you a tax refund, we recommend you send it to and then permanently delete it.

“We can, and do, close these websites down and we continue our efforts to work with law enforcement agencies around the world to bring down the criminals behind these scams.”

Link: Online safety advice