Over the last few years there have been many reports of ‘phishing’ emails claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs advising that the recipient is entitled to a tax refund. These emails are bogus and are sent by fraudsters with no connection to HMRC.
What is ‘phishing’?
‘Phishing’ is an online problem which involves an email message being sent out apparently from a legitimate organisation such as a bank or online retailer. These emails usually ask the recipient to update or confirm their personal and financial information, including date of birth, login information, account details, credit card numbers, PIN numbers, etc. These emails range in terms of their sophistication and content but some appear to be completely genuine.
‘Phishing’ is a serious and growing crime and unfortunately many people are unaware that it is happening to them until it is too late. Anyone who accepts these emails as genuine and provides their details is then at serious risk of having their bank accounts emptied and any credit cards used to their limit. The second problem is that often their personal details can then be sold on to other criminals which could lead to further credit cards or loans being opened in the innocent parties name and without their knowledge.
HMRC Refund Scam
Over the last hew years, HMRC has received thousands of reports of phishing emails stating that the recipient is due an HMRC refund. Action is being taken to stop these fake emails but it is very difficult to prevent these emails from being received when the individuals could be on the other side of the world.
Please be aware that HMRC will never contact anyone by email in relation to a refund due to them. Any such communication will only ever be issued by post.
For the latest commentary from HMRC on the topic of online security and phishing emails please visit their dedicated webpage here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htm