Fraudsters are targeting thousands of taxpayers with scam emails asking for their bank details in order for them to claim tax rebates.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) reports that there's been a huge jump in the number of complaints made about the scam, known as a ‘phishing’ attack, and in the past year it has received over 15,000 reports of fraudulent repayment emails.
The activity of these groups is likely to increase following the news that six million people have been taxed incorrectly in the last year.
The scam emails normally start with a sentence such as ‘Following a review of your fiscal activity you are due a refund of tax of £X' and then ask the recipient to supply their bank or credit card details so a bogus tax refund can be paid out.
However, people who do so are likely to see their bank accounts emptied or their credit card cloned. Their details could also be sold onto other criminal gangs, leading to a high risk of identity fraud.
“I would strongly encourage anyone receiving such an email to immediately send it to us at HMRC for investigation and delete it from their computer," says Lesley Strathie, chief executive of HMRC.
She adds that the tax office would write rather than email, telephone or use a third party agency to contact any taxpayers regarding a refund.
HMRC has released a list of some of the email addresses used by the scammers as part of the tax rebate phishing attack. They include:
- refundtax @hmrc.gov.co.uk
- TaxRefund @hmrc.gov.uk
- service @hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
- claims @hmrc.direct.gov.uk
- notice @hmrc.gov.uk
- hmrc @hmrc.gov.uk
- admin @hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
- info @hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
- no-reply @hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
This list will be updated on the HRMC website.
If you receive an email from one of the above email addresses, you should not reply and instead forward it over to HMRC at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to delete the email afterwards.
If you receive a similar email from another address, then the same advice applies.
If there is a link in the email, do not be tempted to click on it or open any attachments.
If you have already fallen victim to one of these scams, or are concerned that you have, you should contact your bank or credit card provider as soon as possible.