Scam of the week - Watch out for the HMRC refund scam
Millions of UK residents have received emails purporting to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), telling them they are due a tax refund.
These phishing emails look genuine and include a link to a cloned HMRC website where the recipient will be asked to provide their financial details. Once these have been handed over a third party they will then have access to your bank details and could potentially empty your account.
Although these emails are often in circulation there has been a big increase in the last three months and HMRC has shut down 185 websites responsible for sending out fake emails since November.
HMRC says people need to be extra vigilant when receiving any emails of this kind, especially in the run-up to the self-assessment deadline of 31 January.
HMRC will only contact people who are due a refund by post.
What you can do
If you receive a suspicious email this can be forwarded to email@example.com to be investigated. If you receive one of these emails do not open any attachments, never give out bank details or password information and do not send a reply.
If you are due a genuine refund HMRC will send out a P800 tax rebate form which will contain a payment order and will never ask for credit or debit card details.
Joan Wood, director of HMRC Online and Digital, says: "HMRC will do everything possible to ensure those people receiving this email know what steps to take to protect their information, and we are working closely with other law enforcement agencies to target the criminals behind this serious crime and see them brought to justice."
If you think you've been scammed get in touch by leaving a comment below or emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know exactly what has happened.
Phishing scams are typically fraudulent email messages from seemingly legitimate sources (your internet service provider, mobile phone provider, bank etc). These messages usually direct you to a counterfeit website or ask you to divulge private information (password, PIN, credit card numbers, or other account updates), which is then used to commit identity theft.
Issued by a bank as part of a current account and, in a nutshell, serves as electronic cash. Unlike a credit or charge card, where you get an interest-free period before you have to settle the bill, the funds spent on a debit card are withdrawn immediately from your current account. Unless you’ve arranged an overdraft, if you don’t have the cash in the account, you can’t spend it.