Tax credit scam emails on the rise
Tax credit claimants are warned about scam or “phishing” emails promising money back that are being sent out by fraudsters ahead of the 31 July renewal deadline.
According to HMRC, May 2014 has already seen a 131% increase in phishing emails, compared to the same month last year.
Although HMRC worked with other agencies to shut down 611 scam websites during the tax credits renewal period last year, others continue to be created.
One recent scam involves an email circulated from firstname.lastname@example.org telling recipients about a 2013 tax refund report. The email appears to have been issued by “Tax Credit Office Preston” and includes an attachment containing a virus.
If a recipient of one of these emails clicks on a link contained in one of the messages, they are taken to a replica of the HMRC website and asked to provide credit or debit card details of other sensitive information such as passwords.
Handing over sensitive information could not only see money being stolen from victims’ bank accounts, but also their personal details sold on to organised criminal gangs, leading to potential identity theft.
HMRC will never contact people and ask them to hand over personal or payment information by email, so people should be vigilant of suspicious looking emails.
HMRC is asking recipients of such emails to avoid clicking on links or opening attachment and forwarding such emails to the tax authority before deleting them.
If anybody receives a suspicious email they should forward it to email@example.com.
For further information, please contact Paul Wilkinson at the office.
Author: Paul Wilkinson FCA
A former pupil at Lancaster Grammar School, Paul moved away from the area and completed his training with KPMG in Birmingham, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1989. He returned to Lancaster and joined Scott &...
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