Tax-rebate Phishing on the Rise, Warns HMRC

Phishing emails offering tax rebates and claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have tripled on this time last year, the tax body has warned.

More than 24,000 scam emails claiming to be from the HMRC were reported in August 2011 alone — a 300 per cent increase on the same month last year.

The phishing emails, which often look legitimate, provide a link to a cloned replica of the HMRC website. The recipient is then asked to provide credit or debit card details, which are used to empty the victim’s bank account.

HMRC warned that anyone receiving an email claiming they are due a tax repayment should not follow the email’s instructions. The organisation said that it never offers refunds by email, only conducts such business by post and never asks for credit card details.

Tony Neate, managing director of Get Safe Online, said:

“Criminals send out these emails in their thousands — they only need a few responses to make it worth their while.”

Neate warned against clicking links contained in unsolicited emails.

“Never give out personal information unless you initiated contact. Always make sure you know who you are dealing with and if in doubt, contact the organisation direct by telephone or email before proceeding.”

Joan Wood, director of HMRC online and digital, said:

“The increase in reports is partly due to improved awareness of this scam. However, I have no doubt that more of these phishing emails are in general circulation than ever before.”

“We are working closely with other law enforcement agencies to target the criminals behind this serious crime and see them brought to justice.” Wood added.

Individuals receiving scam emails claiming to be from HMRC should forward messages to before deleting them permanently.

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