HMRC have confirmed that reports of fraudulent ‘phishing’ emails have risen by 300% over the past year. The figure for August 2011 was 24,000. HMRC are currently helping to shut down around 100 scam websites a month.
They are stressing that if anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC advising that they are due a tax repayment that they do not follow the email’s instructions.
The emails provide a ‘click-through link’ to a cloned replica of the HMRC website, where the recipient is asked to provide their credit or debit card details. HMRC advise that victims risk not only having their bank accounts emptied but also their personal details being sold on to other organised criminal gangs.
Joan Wood, Director of HMRC Online and Digital, said:
‘We only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post. We currently don’t use telephone calls, emails or external companies in these circumstances. If anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to email@example.com before deleting it permanently.
The increase in reports is partly due to improved awareness of this scam. However, I have no doubt that more of these “phishing” emails are in general circulation than ever before.
HMRC will do everything possible to ensure those 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.’
Internet link: Press release
Posted – 21/11/2011