HMRC is a government department that gets very busy around this time of year. April is when the end of tax year and other deadlines occur, with people across the UK making moves to manage their tax affairs.
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Unfortunately, as HMRC is the main recipient of all things tax related it makes them a prime target for phishing scams.
Phishing is a fraudulent practice, in which a scammer sends a victim an email purporting to be from reputable organisations (such as HMRC).
These emails can be hard to spot as they can include wording, slogans or logos etc that are usually used by the company they’re imitating.
Within these emails, the victim is encouraged to share personal information such as passwords or banking details.
Action Fraud have revealed that, between April 11 and April 14, 43 reports of a new HMRC themed phishing scam were sent through to them.
The emails focus on tax rebates, a common occurrence around his time of yeah which makes the scam believable.
It’s stated within these emails that the recipient (victim) could receive a tax refund of up to £775.80.
To get this in motion, the email asked for proof of identity which could then be used for nefarious purposes.
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The warning from Action Fraud actually included an example of this email, which will make it much easier to identify.
Within the email, the following is written: “You have a new message from HMRC about your tax refund.
“Our annual calculations related your activity determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of GBP755.80.
“In order to complete your Tax Refund, we require one proof of identity and one proof of address.
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“Please provide a colored copy of your valid ID and proof of address no longer than 3 months old (ANY utility bill, bank statement etc). The following ID(s) that we accept are:
- “Passport (full details page and barcode has to be visible)
- “Utility Bill (Not mobile phones)
“A photo of yourself holding your Passport in your hand (has to be visible) so we can carry out a full identification, this picture it can also be made with a webcam or a smartphone that will be able to take a good photo. A ‘selfie’ with your passport would be great.”
Thankfully, would-be victims should be able to identify this scam by the obvious grammatical mistakes, a common red flag associated with fraud.
Commander Karen Baxter, a City of London Police worker for the National Lead Force for Fraud, commented on troubling scams like these while offering tips for avoiding them: “Sadly, despicable criminals will look to take advantage of the financial benefits provided by the government to help us through this national crisis, and use these schemes as a way to commit fraud.
“It is not right that criminals are targeting those on lower incomes, who may be struggling financially at this time, and pretending to offer help and assistance.
“It is extremely important that if you receive an email or text out of the blue that you are not expecting, you don’t click on any links or attachments.
“Instead, visit the official GOV.UK website by typing it directly into your web browser so you can ensure the information you are seeing is genuine.”
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