Treasury minister Mel Stride said taxpayers were receiving emails relating to tax refunds that appear to be from HMRC, but in fact are attempts to get customers to reveal their bank details.
The surge in phishing emails coincides with the period in which HMRC processes tax refunds after the end of the tax year, but Mr Stride said taxpayers will only receive refund information through official channels.
He said: “HMRC only informs you about tax refunds through the post or through your pay via your employer.
“All emails, text messages or voicemail messages saying you have a tax refund are a scam. Do not click on any links in these messages, and forward them to HMRC’s phishing email address and phone number.
“We know that criminals will try and use events like the end of the financial year, the self-assessment deadline, and the issuing of tax refunds to target the public and attempt to get them to reveal their personal data. It is important to be alert to the danger.”
Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of tax at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), said that although HMRC has reported that it received 84,549 phishing reports in March, that figure is “just the tip of the iceberg of fraudulent activity happening to people”.
He said: “HMRC will never text, phone or email you for your bank details.
“Do not let the thought of getting a fictitious tax rebate catch you out and cause you to give away your valuable bank details so that the fraudsters can steal your money.
“If in doubt check Gov.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact. There is value in your data to a criminal so do the right things to protect it.”
Free Phish Alert Button
When new phishing campaigns hit your organization, it is vital that IT staff be alerted immediately. One of the easiest ways to convert your employees from potential targets and victims into allies and partners in the fight against cybercrime is to roll out KnowBe4’s free Phish Alert Button to your employees’ desktops. Once installed, the Phish Alert Button allows your users to sound the alarm when suspicious and potentially dangerous phishing emails slip past the other layers of protection your organization relies on to keep the bad guys at bay.
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