New research carried out by consumer complaints website Resolver reveals that an ever-increasing number of taxpayers are being targeted by bogus emails purporting to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
According to reports, there has been a 200 per cent increase in the number of taxpayers issuing complaints about fake HMRC emails in recent weeks.
What do these scam emails look like?
Taxpayers are increasingly receiving false emails informing them that they are due a tax rebate following errors in their self-assessment tax returns.
The emails, which are very convincingly branded, read: “We identified an error in the calculation of your tax from the last payment.
“In order for us to return the excess payment, we need to confirm a few extra details.”
From here, taxpayers are urged to click on a suspicious-looking link, which will then direct them to a fraudulent website requesting reams of personal information, it has been warned.
What should taxpayers do to protect themselves?
James Walker, Founder of Resolver, warned taxpayers that they should never “open any attachments or links in one of these emails.”
“HMRC never contacts customers who are due a tax refund by email. They always send letters via post,” he said.
“HMRC does sometimes contact you by text, but it’ll never ask for any personal details or financial information. Beware of texts directing you to follow a link,” he added.
Earlier this year, HMRC announced that it had been successful in ‘halting’ 90 per cent of all scam text messages – but evidently, there is still work to be done when it comes to bogus emails.
Taxpayers who receive such emails should report them to email@example.com.
If in doubt as to whether contact purporting to be from HMRC is genuine, check HMRC’s guidance here.