HM Revenue and Customs is warning Wigan and Leigh taxpayers not to be caught out by email phishing scams which offer tax rebates in return for bank account or credit card details.
A record-breaking 8.48 million tax returns were filed online by the January 31 filing deadline.
But the three months prior to the deadline also saw customers report 23,247 phishing emails to HMRC – up 47 per cent on the same period a year earlier.
During 2013 customers reported over 91,000 phishing emails to HMRC.
Anyone responding to this type of email risks opening their bank account to fraudsters and having their details sold on to other organised criminal gangs.
As a result of customers forwarding these emails to HMRC, the department was last month able to close 178 websites which it found were the source – up from 65 in January 2013. During 2013, In total it closed 1,476 scam websites in 2013.
Gareth Lloyd, HMRC head of digital security, said: “HMRC never contacts customers who are due a tax refund via email – we always send a letter through the post.
“If you receive an email claiming to be from HMRC which offers a tax rebate, send it to email@example.com and then delete it permanently. We can, and do, close these websites down, and do all we can to ensure taxpayers stay safe online by working with law enforcement agencies around the world to target the criminals behind these scams.”
Check the advice published at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htm where examples of these fake emails are listed. Forward suspicious emails to HMRC at firstname.lastname@example.org and then delete it from your computer/mail account. Avoid clicking on websites, links or attachments contained in suspicious emails.
Anyone who has responded to one of these emails should forward the email and disclosed details to email@example.com.