HMRC are warning tax credits claimants to be wary of scam or ‘phishing’ emails which are being sent out by fraudsters in the run up to the 31 July renewal deadline.
HMRC are advising that although they worked with other agencies to shut down over 600 scam websites during the tax credits renewal period last year, others sites continue to be created. Reported scam emails for this May are already in excess of 11,000.
Phishing emails often promise money back and, if the recipient clicks on a link, they are taken to a fake replica of the HMRC website. They are then asked to provide credit or debit card details or other sensitive information such as passwords. The fraudsters then try to take money from their account.
They often ask for the recipient’s name, address, date of birth, bank account number, sort code, credit card details, national insurance number, passwords and mother’s maiden name.
In addition to money being stolen from victims’ bank accounts, their personal details can be sold to criminal gangs, leading to possible identify theft.
Nick Lodge, Director General of Benefits and Credits, HMRC, said:
‘HMRC will never ask people to disclose personal or payment information by email. We are committed to claimants’ online security but the methods fraudsters use to get information are constantly changing, so people need to be alert.’
‘HMRC is asking people to be wary of e-mails with attachments which might contain viruses designed to steal personal or financial information, and not to open them.’
‘One scam is contained in an email circulated from firstname.lastname@example.org telling recipients about a 2013 tax refund report. The email appears to have been issued by “Tax Credit Office Preston”, but it is a scam. It includes an attachment that contains a virus. Recipients are urged not to respond and to delete it immediately.’