HMRC have sent out warnings over a significant threat from new ‘phishing’ emails purporting to be from them. They are, in fact, scam emails which include links to replicas of the HMRC site and are designed to trick people into disclosing security-sensitive financial and personal information such as bank details, National Insurance numbers, credit card details, passwords, mother’s maiden names and so on. In the wrong hands these details could mean theft of your money or even your identity. Many people do not realise they have been scammed until it’s too late so taxpayers need to stay alert when checking emails and browsing online.
HMRC state that they never ask for payment and personal information by email and also warned people to be very wary of opening email attachments as many contain malicious code of one form or another. This is especially difficult because some of the fraudulent emails look very genuine, even appearing on casual inspection to come from an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org and containing promises of tax refunds or similar at the right kind of time in the year for such issues to be raised. This year the trend is set to continue with a surge in scam emails occurring right now in the run-up to the 31 deadline for the renewal of tax credits.
Last year HMRC confirmed that nearly 25,000 phishing emails were reported, and authorities took down over 1,700 phishing websites. Anyone receiving such emails should notify HMRC so that action can be taken.
Meanwhile, if you need professional help with your tax affairs, including help claiming tax credits and tax refunds, give Taxfile a call. Contact us here – we have help available in 2 South London offices, another in the Exeter region and, by arrangement, anywhere in between.