HM Revenue and Customs
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Reports to HMRC of fraudulent emails soar

Reports to HMRC of fraudulent emails soar

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 14 September 2011

Reports of fraudulent “phishing” emails have risen by 300 per cent over the past year, HM Revenue & Customs has confirmed.

It is essential that anyone receiving an email claiming to be from HMRC telling the taxpayer that they are due a tax repayment does not follow the email’s instructions.

The emails provide a “click-through link” to a cloned replica of the HMRC website. The recipient is then asked to provide their credit or debit card details. Providing the information asked for enables criminals to steal the account.

Victims risk not only having their bank accounts emptied but also their personal details being sold on to other organised criminal gangs.

Almost 24,000 such emails were reported to HMRC in August alone – an increase of nearly 300 per cent compared to the same month last year.

HMRC is currently helping to shut down around 100 scam websites a month.

Joan Wood, Director of HMRC Online and Digital, said:

“We only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post. We currently don’t use telephone calls, emails or external companies in these circumstances. If anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting it permanently.

“The increase in reports is partly due to improved awareness of this scam. However, I have no doubt that more of these “phishing” emails are in general circulation than ever before.

“HMRC will do everything possible to ensure those receiving this email know what steps to take to protect their information, and we are working closely with other law enforcement agencies to target the criminals behind this serious crime and see them brought to justice.”

Details HMRC thoroughly investigates phishing attacks and works with other law enforcement agencies in the UK and overseas. In the last two years, scam networks have been shut down in a number of countries, including Austria, Mexico, the UK, South Korea, the USA, Thailand and Japan.

HMRC strongly advises customers to:

* Check the advice published at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htm to see if the email you have received is listed
* Forward suspicious emails 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 with HMRC at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/fraud-attempts.htm

Notes for editors 1. The scam email often begins with a sentence such as “we have reviewed your tax return and our calculations of your last years accounts a tax refund of XXXX is due.”
2. Legitimate tax rebate forms (P800s) from HMRC will contain a payment order and will never ask for credit or debit card details.
3. The current increase in scam emails is partly due to people following HMRC advice and forwarding them to the department’s on line reporting facility.
4. In September 2009, a record 83,000 phishing attempts were reported to HMRC. The following month, an unprecedented 10,000 reports of phishing scams were made to HMRC on one day alone.
5. Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk.

NAT 74/11

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

Contacts:

HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
HMRC-Press-office.NDSmanagement@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Sara Pont
Phone: 020 7147 0394
sara.pont@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Jonathan Hall
Phone: 020 7147 0052
jonathan.hall@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