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HMRC Warn Against E Mail Scam

HM Revenue and Customs have announced that scam ‘phishing’ emails – claiming to be from HMRC – have risen by 300% in the last year.  HMRC have warned UK tax payers that they should ignore scam emails, supposedly from the Revenue, stating that they are due a tax repayment. Anyone who receives one of these ‘phishing’ emails has been warned by HMRC not to follow the email’s instructions. Recipients of scam emails are instead being instructed to forward the email onto the Revenue, before deleting it from their inbox.

Scam emails being sent out include links to a hoax replica HMRC website, where taxpayers are asked to enter debit or credit card details to receive the ‘false’ tax repayment.  Bank account information that is entered into these scam websites are being sold to criminal gangs and participants are at risk of having their whole bank account emptied.

With the help of law enforcement agencies overseas and in the UK, HMRC have successfully shut down scam networks in a number of countries – including Austria, Japan, The UK and USA – over the last two years.  24,000 ‘phishing’ emails were sent out in August 2011 alone and HMRC are currently closing down 100 scam websites a month.

Director of HMRC Digital and Online, Joan Wood, said:

“We only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing and by post. We currently don’t use telephone calls, emails or external companies in these circumstances. 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.”

In published guidelines on their website, HMRC state that scam emails to watch out for will include something similar to the following:

“We have reviewed your tax return and our calculations of your last years accounts a tax refund of XXXX is due.”

Also, HMRC would never ask for you to provide your debit or credit card details for a tax repayment.  UK tax payers should keep an eye on their inbox activity and watch out for ‘phishing’ email scams claiming to be from HMRC.