HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has warned taxpayers to be on the alert for fraudulent emails.
Following the 31 January deadline for self-assessment tax returns, criminals have been busy sending out phishing emails which purport to offer people tax rebates.
They are, in fact, fraudulent.
The emails provide a click-through link to a replica of the HMRC website. The recipient is then asked to provide their credit card details. Fraudsters use the information to try to strip funds from the person’s account.
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 that, as a matter of policy, HMRC will only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post.
He added: “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.”
Should anyone receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the tax authorities, HMRC has advice on how to deal with it.
People should check details published at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security to see if the email is listed there.
Suspicious emails should be forwarded to HMRC at email@example.com and then deleted from recipients’ computers and mail accounts.
Nobody should click on the websites or on the links contained in suspicious emails, or open any attachments.
If anyone has reason to believe that they have been the victim of an email scam, they should report the matter to their bank or card issuer as soon as possible. If in doubt, check with HMRC at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/fraud-attempts.htm.