HMRC WARNS OVER BOGUS EMAILS (08/01/09)
The government is warning people to be on the look out for fraudsters after a spate of bogus emails have been reported in the run-up to the self-assessment tax returns deadline..
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the emails suggested the recipients were due for a tax refund and went on to ask for bank or credit card details, a practice known as ‘phishing’.
Thousands of people were said to have received the emails, which HMRC said were “the most sophisticated and prolific phishing scam that we have encountered”.
The emails carry HMRC’s logo and look genuine, although eagle-eyed recipients will notice that the originating address is not one used by the agency.
A website link encourages recipients to click on a supposed ‘refund’ form: victims who provide personal details face the threat of their accounts being emptied of funds.
The deadline for filing genuine returns is 31 January. Anyone who files late faces a £100 penalty.
HMRC said it was also aware of a growing number of telephone scams in which fraudsters posed as tax officials arranging rebate payments.
But it was particularly concerned about the email scam, and the large numbers of emails that were expected to be received in the coming weeks.
"We only ever contact customers who are due a refund in writing by post,” said HMRC. We never use e-mails, telephone calls or external companies in these circumstances.”
• for more details on the bogus emails and other fraudulent schemes visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/spoofs.htm