HM Revenue and Customs
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NAT 45/09 HMRC warns of ‘real risk’ from scam emails

NAT 45/09 HMRC warns of ‘real risk’ from scam emails

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 22 July 2009

Criminal gangs are targeting taxpayers with thousands of scam emails offering bogus tax refunds. The online attacks, known as ‘phishing’, have peaked during July leading to increased reports of fraud to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

The scams tell the recipient they are due a tax refund and ask for bank or credit card details so that the fictitious tax refund can be paid out. HMRC is warning customers about the possible dangers of falling for this scam during this phase of increased attacks on UK residents.

All customers who provide their details to the fraudsters run a real risk of their accounts being emptied and credit cards used to their limit. The victim also risks having their personal details sold on to other organised criminal gangs.

Lesley Strathie, HMRC Chief Executive said:

“We only ever contact customers who are due a refund in writing by post. We never use emails, telephone calls or external companies in these circumstances. I would strongly encourage anyone receiving such an email to immediately send it to us for investigation and delete it from their computer.”

HMRC is taking action to disrupt these attacks and through co-operation with other law enforcement agencies in the UK and overseas a number of scam networks have been shut down – most recently in July in Korea, Thailand, UK and USA.

HMRC strongly advises:

* Check the advice published to hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htm to see if the email you have received is listed.

* Forward suspicious email to HMRC at phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and then delete it from your computer / mail account.
Do not click on websites links contained in suspicious emails or open attachments.
* Follow advice from www.getsafeonline.co.uk. If you have reason to believe that you have been the victim of an email scam, report the matter to your bank/card issuer as soon as possible.

If in doubt, please check it out with HMRC at
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/fraud-attempts.htm

Notes to Editors

1. The scam email often begins with a sentence such as ‘Following a review of your fiscal activity you are due a refund of tax of £XXX.’
2. HMRC previously warned the public about phishing attacks in January 2009 during the run-up to the deadline for online self-assessment tax returns.
3. The current increase in scam emails is partly due to people following HMRC advice and forwarding them to the department’s security and fraud team.
4. In the last 12 months HMRC has received over 15,000 reports of fraudulent repayment emails.
5. Do not visit the website contained within the email or disclose any personal or payment information.

Email addresses used to distribute the tax rebate emails include:
* refundtax@hmrc.gov.co.uk
* TaxRefund@hmrc.gov.uk
* service@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
* claims@hmrc.direct.gov.uk
* notice@hmrc.gov.uk
* hmrc@hmrc.gov.uk
* admin@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
* info@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
* no-reply@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

HMRC does not send out emails using these email addresses.

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
Press enquiries only please contact:

Contacts:

Mike Burrell
Phone: 020 7147 0052
mike.burrell@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

HMRC Out of Hours
Phone: 07860 359544
NDS.HMRC@coi.gsi.gov.uk

PDNS: Mandatory Active Cyber Defence for Public Sector Networks. Latest Guide