What would you do if you received an email saying you were due a large tax rebate and should go to a link to claim it? If you are sensible you won’t click on that link. You could have received one of a batch of phishing emails which will take you to a clone of the HMRC site. Once you are there, you’ll have a request to give credit or debit card details. If you comply with that, your bank account will be emptied and your credit card maxed out.
HMRC doesn’t use email to advise about rebates due, only snail mail. It will never ask for credit card details either. No matter how legitimate the email and the website look, they aren’t the real thing.
Why Do the Phishers Do it?
How can it be worth the effort of copying a website and sending out these emails? Apparently the phishers have acquired thousands of email addresses. They just have to set them up as a group, type in the message once and press send. And when we all turn on our computers and get connected, they pop up in our inboxes, or perhaps in the spam folder if we are lucky.
Unfortunately there are always some gullible people who click on the link and comply with what they think are HMRC instructions. Then the dastardly phishers move fast to gather their funds and disappear.
What to do if you Get One
HMRC believes that the trend for trying to get easy money this way is growing, so we are all going to get more and more of these phishing emails and must be on our guard against them. The HMRC website requests that, if you receive such an email, you forward it to email@example.com to assist in investigations to try to find the criminals behind them, recover fraudulently acquired cash and put a stop to their activities.
The site gives a list of email addresses that have been used for phishing, none of which are ever used by the revenue. It also mentions other methods used to con people out of their hard earned cash.
Some fraudsters make telephone calls claiming to be tax officers. They ask for bank details so that a tax refund can be made. Others send text messages asking you to call them. This is more difficult to recognise because HMRC officers do sometimes leave messages asking people to call them at their local office. Always check if the telephone number is correct before making the call.
Take precautions. Don’t get caught out by the phishers.