The UK tax body is calling on British tax-payers to be vigilant as fraudsters send emails and text messages claiming to be from HMRC.
The tax authority is currently processing tax refunds after the end of the 2017/18 tax year. However, criminals are taking advantage of this by sending out scam emails and text messages to trick the public into thinking they have received a tax rebate so they hand over their account and personal details.
Mel Stride MP, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: "HMRC only informs you about tax refunds through the post or through your pay via your employer. All emails, text messages or voicemail messages saying you have a tax refund are a scam. Do not click on any links in these messages and forward them to HMRC's phishing email address and phone number.
"We know that criminals will try and use events like the end of the financial year, the self-assessment deadline, and the issuing of tax refunds to target the public and attempt to get them to reveal their personal data. It is important to be alert to the danger."
Many of these fraudulent emails and texts include links which take the user to dubious websites where their information can be stolen. This kind of phishing is expected to continue in the coming months as genuine tax refunds are issued.
HMRC says Income Tax for 6 April 2017 to 5 April 2018 will be calculated over the coming months and anyone owed a genuine tax rebate will receive a tax calculation letter (either a P800 or a Simple Assessment letter) by post between June and October.
HMRC has issued the following advice:
- Recognise the signs . Genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details. Check GOV.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact and avoid scams.
- Stay safe . Don't give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links you weren't expecting. If you think you have received an HMRC-related bogus email or text message, check it against these examples.
- Take action. Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to [email protected] and texts to 60599 or contact Action Fraud.