Millions targeted in tax rebate scam

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Online fraudsters are targeting millions of people in line for a tax rebate from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Earlier this year, HMRC informed almost five million taxpayers that they had either paid too much – or too little – tax during the 2010/11 tax year. It is now in the process of contacting people who have overpaid during this period. These payments, which will include interest, will average around £300.

Scam emails

But hackers have sent millions of emails to taxpayers, pretending to be from HMRC, to try to trick people into giving out their personal details. HMRC says it never sends out emails or contacts people by phone or SMS and will only contact people via post.

It warns people who receive suspect emails like this not to open any links within the email and not to give out any personal information. There are many fake email addresses used to send out these scam emails, for example:, and (a full list can be found on the website).

These emails look genuine and if you receive one you should forward them to and then delete it.

If you have received one of these emails and have already given out personal information, such as your national insurance number, you should email the details to


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I have received two such e-mails over the last years.

Luckily I had the foresight to contact HMRC independently BEFORE trying to respond to the original email so I knew that it was fake.

Because the amount of rebate offered is not overly large, around £200-£300 often suspicions are not aroused.

The rule I adhere to is that neither banks / financial services nor government bodies will ever contact you by email except in reply to emails you send them. If you see an email from a bank, financial service or government body and you haven't sent them an email enquiry, you know you can delete it. Paypal does send customers emails but they always address you by name, never as "Dear customer".

It's common sense. If you are contacted by an organisation that holds personal information, they obviously know who you are and will address you by name. If they address you as "Dear customer" then they clearly do not hold personal data on you... and they would like to remedy that at your cost.

Is it just scam emails being sent, or have there been letters too?

Rule of thumb don't buy anything on the phone or email. If a company has phoned or emailed you and don't know who you are then they are obviously hard up and need your cash - quick. Put the phone down or delete. For this reason I do not like Facebook as too many details are given out to complete strangers.