HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are warning tax credits claimants about scam or “phishing” emails sent out by fraudsters in the run-up to the 31 July renewal deadline.
Phishing emails that claim to be from HMRC often promise money back and if you click on a link, you are taken to a fake replica of the HMRC website. You will then be asked to provide credit or debit card details or other sensitive information such as passwords. The fraudsters then try to steal the money from your bank account.
During last year’s tax credits renewal period, which runs from April to July, nearly 24,839 phishing emails were reported to HMRC. This May there has been a 131% increase in phishing email reports on the same month last year, with 11,219 being recorded.
Although HMRC worked with other agencies to shut down 611 scam websites during the tax credits renewal period last year, others continue to be created.
HMRC took action to close down 1,740 illegal sites in 2013, most originating in Turkey, Spain and Bulgaria. Phishing emails also came from the UK and USA.
HMRC will never ask for personal information by email
Nick Lodge, Director General of Benefits and Credits, HMRC, said: “HMRC will never ask people to disclose personal or payment information by email. We are committed to claimants’ online security but the methods fraudsters use to get information are constantly changing, so people need to be alert.”
HMRC is asking people to be wary of e-mails with attachments which might contain viruses designed to steal personal or financial information, and not to open them.
One scam is contained in an email circulated from [email protected] telling recipients about a 2013 tax refund report. The email appears to have been issued by “Tax Credit Office Preston”, but it is a scam. It includes an attachment that contains a virus. Recipients are urged not to respond and to delete it immediately”.
For further information visit the HMRC website.
Please note that Action Fraud is not responsible for the content of external websites.
To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.