Taxpayers are once again being targeted by scam emails claiming to have been sent from HM Revenue & Customs, with promises of tax rebates of up to £500.
The emails (I have personally received 5 so far with slightly different wording on each occasion) state that having reviewed the recipients tax return, HMRC have recently discovered that they are due a rather substantial rebate, and ask for an attachment form to be downloaded and opened in a browser in which you then enter your details. The attached form you are asked to download is actually an html file, and once opened in your browser will most certainly wreak havoc with your computer and personal information. Our advice is simple, delete the email, do not download a suspicious looking attachment and never enter personal information into an un-trusted website.
We have been asked by a few clients whether these emails are fraudulent. The most important bit of information you should remember is that HMRC do not send e-mails like this – they only use normal post due to the fear of being hacked themselves. Therefore if you receive any form of email regarding tax liabilities or refunds, claiming to be from HMRC, you know it is a fake, not matter how realistic the email looks.
For broader spam emails, there are other tell-tale signs that the email is not genuine. The first question you must ask yourself is have I supplied my email address to the proposed sender? If the answer is no, you can be sure it is a fake. The next question is in regards to content, if the sender is asking you to supply personal information, or asking you to input bank details; you need to question their motives. Finally, if you have any doubts at all about the motives of an email, do not respond; your gut feeling is usually correct, and if it really is a genuine email they will try to contact you in another way.
HMRC have further information on their website about the Phishing Scam which can be viewed here.