TAXPAYERS reported almost 80,000 tax rebate ‘phishing’ emails last year, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has revealed.
HMRC is warning people not to fall victim to the email scams sent by fraudsters.
The emails promise a tax refund in exchange for personal, credit card or banking details.
However, people who respond risk opening their account to fraudsters and having details sold on to organised criminal gangs.
Emails often link to a clone of HMRC’s genuine website to trick unsuspecting taxpayers into handing over their details, but HMRC never sends emails about a genuine tax rebate.
HMRC took action to close down 522 illegal sites in 2012, which showed these emails originated from a number of countries including the US, Russia and Japan, as well as central and eastern Europe.
Gareth Lloyd, the head of digital security for HMRC, said: “HMRC does not email customers about tax refunds – we only ever contact customers who are genuinely due tax back in writing, by post.
“If anyone receives an email offering a tax rebate and claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org before deleting it permanently.
To help customers stay safe online, HMRC advises them to check the advice published at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htm where they can see if the email received is listed.