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John M Taylor & Co | Accountants Paisley/Taxation/Vat Returns/Business Start Ups/Sage/Payroll/Bookkeeping

HMRC Repayment Scam

For the last 12 to 18 months there have been many reports of ‘phishing' emails claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs advising that the recipient is entitled to a tax refund. These emails are bogus and are sent by fraudsters with no connection to HMRC.

What is ‘phishing'?
‘Phishing' is an online problem which involves an email message being sent out apparently from a legitimate organisation such as a bank or online retailer. These emails usually ask the recipient to update or confirm their personal and financial information, including date of birth, login information, account details, credit card numbers, PIN numbers, etc.  These emails range in terms of their sophistication and content but some appear to be completely genuine.
‘Phishing' is a serious and growing crime and unfortunately many people are unaware that it is happening to them until it is too late. Anyone who accepts these emails as genuine and provides their details is then at serious risk of having their bank accounts emptied and any credit cards used to their limit. The second problem is that often their personal details can then be sold on to other criminals which could lead to further credit cards or loans being opened in the innocent parties name and without their knowledge.

HMRC Refund Scam
Over the last 12 to 18 months, HMRC has received over 15,000 reports of phishing emails stating that the recipient is due an HMRC refund. Action is being taken to stop these fake emails but it is very difficult to prevent these emails from being received when the individuals could be on the other side of the world.
Please be aware that HMRC will never contact anyone by email in relation to a refund due to them. Any such communication will only ever be issued by post.

UPDATE 09/10/2009
National Insurance Contributions Phishing Emails
HMRC have received reports that an email is in circulation entitled National Insurance Contributions, stating that a payment has not been made. This email is not from HMRC and ccontains a link to a fraudulent website that requests the disclosure of payment/personal details. Do not visit the website contained within the email or disclose any personal or payment information.

UPDATE 21/10/2009
Underreported Income Phishing Emails
An email is being circulated from the address 'no-reply@hmrc.gov.uk' entitled Notice of Underreported Income. This email links to a fake HMRC website entitled ‘Fraud Application' and requests that you review a tax statement which you are required to download. The file to be downloaded is actually an executable file (.exe), downloading such files over the internet can potentially compromise the security on your machine.
Do not visit the website contained within the email or disclose any personal or payment information as this email or the website link contained in the email are not connected to HM Revenue & Customs.
If you receive any such emails, please forward it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and then delete it.

HMRC guidance – ‘phishing' scams
 
HMRC have published some guidance on how to avoid getting caught out by this type of fraud:

  • Never click on websites links or open attachments contained in suspicious emails.
  • Forward any suspicious email about tax refunds to HMRC at phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and then delete it from your mail account or email program.
  • Follow advice from http://www.getsafeonline.org/
  • If you have reason to believe that you have been the victim of an email scam, report the matter to your bank/card issuer as soon as possible.
  • It is strongly recommended that you have an up to date Anti-Virus and Anti-spyware program installed on your computer and that you regularly scan your computer for viruses.
  • Many email programs or accounts have an inbuilt spam protection facility that attempts to filter out spam emails (where detected). These are never 100% accurate but it is worthwhile making sure this is set up.

HMRC have published a list of the e-mail addresses that are typical used by the fraudsters http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/examples.htm

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