MP and Treasury Minister Mel Stride has warned taxpayers to be on the lookout for increasingly elaborate phishing emails, text messages and phone calls purporting to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Speaking towards the end of last week, Mr Stride said that there had been a ‘surge’ in so-called phishing emails coinciding with the period in which HMRC processes tax refunds after the end of the financial year.
He said that cyber criminals were acting in-line with HMRC’s financial calendar in their efforts to get taxpayers to reveal their bank details and personal information.
The comments echo concerns previously raised by Police crime watchdog, Action Fraud, regarding cleverly-disguised emails and text messages purporting to be from the Revenue.
Such fraudulent messages typically inform recipients of bogus tax refunds and invite them to share sensitive personal details in order to claim it. In some cases, HMRC imposters have even been calling taxpayers at random and making verbal threats.
Mr Stride reminded taxpayers that HMRC itself will only ever contact them 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,” he warned.
“Do not click on any links in these messages, and forward them to HMRC’s phishing email address and phone number.”
He added: “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.”