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HMRC Cautions about Tax Rebate Phishing Scams

HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs) has asked taxpayers to be careful of phishing e-mails that are allegedly promising tax refunds.

Notably, statistics from HMRC suggest that these e-mail scams controlled by illegal gangs of hackers and phishers have risen at an unprecedented rate during July 2009. Indeed, HMRC reports that people have reported more than 15,000 instances of phishing attempts during the period, August 2008 to July 2009.

The scam e-mails reaching taxpayers' inboxes request for credit card and banking information so that a tax re-imbursement can be processed that the recipients are apparently entitled to. The mode-of-operation for all phishing campaigns is almost the same.

Moreover, the phishers sending the new tax refund e-mails are using some e-mail ids which include - taxcredits@hmrc-credits.co.uk, tax-refund@hmrcforms.co.uk, hmrc@tax-revenue.uk, refunds@hmrc.gov.uk and refundsdept@hmrc.gov.uk, among others.

News reports state that countries like Thailand and the USA have shutdown similar types of phishing e-mail scams.

HMRC is continuously coordinating with law enforcement agencies to tackle the recent phishing problem. The body says that anyone getting dubious e-mails should send the messages to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before finally deleting them.

It also cautioned taxpayers that answering these fraudulent e-mails could put a user in danger of illicit transactions on his bank or credit card. Therefore, recipients should not click on any link provided in the e-mails or reply to them with personal information.

HMRC adds that such phishing e-mails typically begin by stating that after reviewing the recipient's fiscal activity, it has been determined that the user is entitled to tax refund. The body therefore repeats that it wouldn't ever notify taxpayers about a rebate in their tax over electronic mails. It does not ask them to fill in an Internet questionnaire to claim the rebate. In fact, if at any time HMRC has to contact netizens about a tax re-imbursement, it does so via postal mails.

Clearly, all these hints from HMRC are provided to help cautious citizens so that they don't fall prey to the latest e-mail scam.

Related article: HMRC - Fake Refund E-mails Tricking Tax Payers

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