Don’t get hooked by ‘phishy’ email scam

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is alerting taxpayers in and Borders to a surge of fake ‘phishing’ emails sent out by fraudsters in the run-up to the tax credits renewal deadline.

The email informs the recipient they are due a tax rebate, and provides a click-through link to a cloned replica of the HMRC website. The recipient is asked to provide their credit or debit 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.

Since the beginning of April, when the first tax credits renewals forms were sent out to claimants, more than 46,000 phishing emails have been reported by customers. During the same 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 phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk 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 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 phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk 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.