May 26 2013 Latest news:
Adam Aiken, Editor
Thursday, September 15, 2011
There has been a fresh warning over efforts by fraudsters to con people into handing over their financial details.
The taxman said there had been a steep rise in the number of reported phishing e-mails, which try to trick people into revealing their bank, credit card or debit card details.
HM Revenue & Customs believes some of this increase is down to greater awareness by the public, with more people taking action when they receive the messages.
But it is also thought that the 300pc rise in the number reported over the past year is a result of fraudsters stepping up their activity.
HMRC said people receiving e-mails notifying them of tax refunds should not follow the message’s instructions. The e-mails usually involve encouraging people to click through to cloned replicas of HMRC’s website, where a request for personal financial information is made.
Victims risk not only having their bank accounts emptied but also having their details sold on to other criminal gangs.
Joan Wood, director of HMRC Online and Digital, said: “We only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post. We don’t use telephone calls, e-mails or external companies in these circumstances.”
HMRC is working to shut down about 100 scam websites each month, with nearly 24,000 phishing e-mails reported in August alone.
“The increase in reports is partly due to improved awareness of this scam,” said Ms Wood.
“However, I have no doubt that more of these phishing e-mails are in general circulation than ever before.”
If you receive an e-mail claiming to be from HMRC, you can report it by forwarding it to firstname.lastname@example.org – and then delete it from your system.