Tax credits claimants are being warned about scam or ‘phishing’ emails sent out by fraudsters in the run-up to the renewal deadline according to Northampton accountants Harris & Co.
HMRC issued the warning as they launched an advertising campaign to remind claimants to renew their tax credits or face the prospect of having their payments stopped.
During 2012’s tax credits renewals period, from April to July, around 22,000 phishing emails were reported to HMRC. And despite the department working with other agencies to shut down more than 147 fraudulent websites during the period, others continue to be created.
Phishing emails often promise money back and, if the recipient clicks on a link, they are taken to a fake replica of the HMRC website. They are then asked to provide credit or debit card details or other sensitive information such as passwords. The fraudsters then try to take money from their account.
Nick Lodge, director general of benefits and credits, said:
‘HMRC will never ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email. We are committed to your online security but the methods fraudsters use to obtain information are constantly changing, so you need to be alert. Anyone who receives this type of email should send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.’
More details are available from HMRC.