Don't get caught by tax rebate scammers
The deadline for submission of tax returns is fast approaching, and cyber villains are already getting busy in the Boston area to take advantage of the unsuspecting.
Some have already received scam emails, allegedly from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), advising of tax rebates and inviting them to submit a tax refund request.
The deadline for tax return online submissions is the end of this month and HMRC says this is a prime time for scam activity.
An HMRC spokesman said: "Scammers use this peak in online activity to carry out increasingly sophisticated frauds and to make their phishing emails appear genuine and relevant. Cyber criminals are likely to use the approaching January 31 deadline for Self Assessment as a cover for their scams.
"Customers receiving an email from HMRC can check against the protocol to see whether it is genuine or a fraud."
An HMRC email to customers about their personal tax or tax credits will never include or ask for:
- Personal or financial information of any sort; this includes the customer's full address, full postcode, Unique Tax Reference (UTR), or any bank details;
- Financial information which refers to specific figures, tax computations or specific facts about a customer;
- Email attachments;
- Web links;
- An offer of a repayment or refund;
- A personal HMRC email address to send a response to.
HMRC is urging customers to keep their personal details safe online ahead of the Self Assessment deadline. They can help to keep their data safe by making sure their computer has up-to-date anti-virus protection and the latest version of their internet browser, by keeping their passwords safe and changing them regularly.
Jonathan Lloyd White, Director of Security and Information and Departmental Security Officer, HMRC, said: "We are committed to customers' online security, but the methods that fraudsters use to get information are constantly changing so people need to be alert. When using our online services I would urge all our customers to be vigilant, and remember that HMRC will never send an email to ask for your personal information or password, or include a link or attachment. We want to help you stay safe online. Visit cyberstreetwise.com for more advice."
HMRC's top tips for keeping your personal details safe online:
- Keep your password secure and do not share with anyone;
- Change your password often;
- Have up-to-date anti-virus protection installed on your computer;
- Make sure your computer has the latest internet browser;
- Always go through GOV.UK to get through to HMRC's online services;
- https://www.cyberstreetwise.com/ has lots of helpful advice on how to stay safe online
Always type in the full online address www.gov.uk/selfassessment to obtain the correct link to file your SA return online securely and free of charge.
Forward suspicious emails to HMRC at firstname.lastname@example.org and then delete them.
HMRC has closed 22,210 fake websites since July 1, 2014, and continues to protect customers by constantly searching for these.