The British public has been warned to be vigilant when opening emails and SMS-messages from HMRC, after it was revealed that a number of fraudsters are using the government organisation’s name to con people out of money.
Many criminals have started to send messages to people saying they are due a tax rebate under the false identity of HMRC. They then ask for their account information and personal details, so they can gain access to their finances.
Financial secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride MP reminded Brits that HMRC only gives notice of a tax rebate through the post or via wage slips, therefore any other correspondence – emails, texts, voicemails and so on – are not legitimate.
“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,” she stated.
Fraudsters are choosing now to act as the tax authority is currently processing refunds following the 2017-2018 financial year. Therefore, people who are expecting money back might be inclined to open these messages and provide their bank details.
The treasury minister also advised adults not to click on any links in the emails or text messages, as these will lead to dubious websites where details can actually be stolen even if the person does not provide them.
These phishing websites are growing in number all the time, and the government requested 2,672 pages to be taken down in March 2018 alone. This is small compared to the 84,549 phishing reports it received during the month.
To avoid being a victim of fraudulent scams, people should look for government services by searching on the Gov.uk website only; avoid texts or emails regarding tax rebates or penalties or requesting personal information; and contact Action Fraud if asked to pay for a visa with cash or a money transfer.
Those who have suffered financial loss as a result of a scam could look into debt recovery investigators in Surrey, who might be able to help.