HMRC warn of email scam

HMRC have issued a warning about possible fake or ‘phishing’ emails sent out by fraudsters. The period in the run-up to the tax credits renewal deadline often sees an increase in such attacks. Taxpayers have to renew their claims by 31 July 2012 or their payments may stop.

The format of the emails is that they often promise a rebate. If taxpayers click on the link within the email, they are taken to a replica of the HMRC website where they are then asked to provide credit or debit card details or other sensitive information. Fraudsters then try to take money from the account. Victims are at risk from having money stolen from their bank accounts or their personal details being sold for identify fraud. According to the HMRC press release: ‘During last year’s tax credits renewals period, from April to July, nearly 94,000 phishing emails were reported by customers. Even though HMRC helped shut down more than 360 scam websites during the period, others continue to be created.’ Steve Lamey, Director General for Benefits and Credits, said: ‘We 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. Anyone who receives an email claiming to be from HMRC should send it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting it permanently.’