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Wiganers Warned of a Phishing Scam

IT Security Officials at Wigan, a city in the UK, reported on July 31, 2008 that a number of malicious e-mails were arriving locally that seemed to be sent by HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs), indicating to the recipient that he/she had been granted a tax refund.

The wording and layout of the e-mail is professional as it embeds the proper logos and livery and even audaciously claims an HMRC copyright on the message. The e-mail even mentions the right amount of rebate £242.90 to draw the recipient's interest, but not enough to arouse doubts that the amount is excessive.

It then continues to suggest that the customer can get the refund on his/her MasterCard or Visa, and hence asks for personal account details as well as his/her card number. However, the message contains occasional spelling errors and uses the American term "zip code" instead of "postcode."

Both Wigan Experts of Trading Standards and the HMRC have warned Wiganers not to fall for the ruse that simply tries to capture bank details so that the theft might be committed over bank balances of the victims. However, the HMRC pointed out that fraudulent e-mails normally don't address recipients by name. Instead, they make mistakes of missing the addressee particulars or somewhat vaguely address as "Dear valued customer."

Meanwhile, according to Wigan's Chief Trading Standards Officer, Julie Middlehurst, this particular e-mail scam was initially operated in 2006 and it has re-emerged. Unfortunately, such kinds of fraudulent e-mails are very common, although the HMRC one is quite plausible, as reported by WiganToday on July 31, 2008.

Therefore, Middlehurst suggested that e-mail users should immediately suspect any phishing message that asks them for their bank details or other personal information. These are simply from fraudsters who want to break into people's bank accounts.

Also, Officials at HMRC said that the body would never request for log-in, credit card and bank details. Furthermore, if users receive any suspicious e-mail, they should not click any link given in it, reveal any information or even reply to it.

» SPAMfighter News - 8/8/2008

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