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HMRC warns taxpayers of increase in email scams

23 July 2009

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has alerted taxpayers to the risk posed by thousands of bogus emails offering people tax refunds.

The number of fraudulent emails has risen sharply with the approach of the 31 July self-assessment tax deadline.

The scams, HMRC said, promise recipients a fictitious tax rebate and ask for bank or credit card details so that the money can be paid into an account.

Anyone who gives over such information runs a real risk that the criminals behind the fraud will empty their accounts or use their credit cards to the limits.

There are several signs that an email is bogus. These include opening sentences that begin: Following a review of your fiscal activity you are due a refund of tax of £XXX.

The email address is also a giveaway. HMRC urged people to be on the lookout for any of the following addresses, none of which the tax authority uses:

refundtax@hmrc.gov.co.uk

TaxRefund@hmrc.gov.uk

service@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

claims@hmrc.direct.gov.uk

notice@hmrc.gov.uk

hmrc@hmrc.gov.uk

admin@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

info@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

no-reply@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Lesley Strathie, HMRC’s chief executive, said: “We only ever contact customers who are due a refund in writing by post. We never use emails, telephone calls or external companies in these circumstances. I would strongly encourage anyone receiving such an email to immediately send it to us for investigation and delete it from their computer.”

HMRC has advised people not to click on the website links contained in the fraudulent emails; to check at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htm to see if the email is listed there; and to forward suspicious email to HMRC at phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting it from their computer or mail account.