New statistics show that nearly 51,000 phishing emails were reported to HMRC between April and July last year – double the number for the same period in 2013. Some of these scam messages claim to be from a “Tax Credit Office Agent” offering a tax refund, or include a link to a fake version of the GOV.UK website. People are often asked to provide bank details or other sensitive information such as passwords. Fraudsters then try to take money from their account, or sell their identities to criminals.
Last year, HMRC worked with other agencies to shut down 8,877 of these scam websites – a 500% increase against 2013’s figures – and the message to tax credits customers this year is to stay vigilant.
Nick Lodge, Director General of Benefits and Credits, HMRC, said:
“HMRC will never ask people to disclose personal information by email. We have cracked down on phishing emails and scam websites, but the fraudsters’ methods are constantly changing, so people must remain vigilant.
“The only way to renew tax credits and report changes online is on GOV.UK.”
HMRC has advice on recognising scam emails, and how to report them, on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/dealing-with-hmrc/phishing-scams
1. People can renew their tax credits claim online, at any time and from any device, online at GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/renewtaxcredits
2. Tax credits claimants can get help and information on tax credits renewals:
• On GOV.UK at https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/tax-credits
• By tweeting @HMRCcustomers with their general queries
• By calling the tax credits helpline: 0345 300 3900
3. There is guidance on GOV.UK showing the current list of digital and other contact issued by HMRC: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/genuine-hmrc-contact-and-recognising-phishing-emails/genuine-hmrc-contact-and-recognising-phishing-emails
4. Further advice on online safety can be found at http://www.getsafeonline.co.uk/
5. Follow HMRC’s press office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
6. HMRC’s Flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk