HM Revenue & Customs said there had been a surge in emails that try to trick people into disclosing their account information, in the run-up to the deadline for renewing tax credits.
Since the beginning of April, when the first tax credit renewal forms were sent out, more than 46,000 people have reported receiving one of the phishing emails, while HMRC has been involved in shutting down more than 150 scam websites.
In the emails, fraudsters tell people they are in line for a tax rebate. It asks them to click on a link which takes them through to a cloned replica of HMRC’s website, where they are asked to enter their credit or debit card details.
The fraudsters use these details to empty people’s accounts, before selling on their personal information to other criminals.
Joan Wood, director of HMRC online and digital, said: “We currently only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post.”
Anyone who receives an email which claims to be from HMRC is asked to send it to [email protected] before permanently deleting it.