HMRC are asking tax credit claimants to be wary of scam emails, fake websites and text messages in the run up to the 31 July renewals deadline.
Recently published statistics show that, between April and July last year, 51,000 phishing emails were reported to them which was double the amount for the same period in the previous year.
Claiming to be from the Tax Credit Office and usually offering a refund of several hundred pounds, many of these scam messages include a link to what looks a legitimate version of the GOV.UK website, asking people to provide their bank details for the full refund. Fraudsters then try to take money from the account, or sell their identities on to criminals.
Last year, nearly 9,000 scam websites were shut down through HMRC’s work with various other agencies, a massive increase of 500% from the 2013 year. The message still remains – to be vigilant.
Nick Lodge, the Director General of Benefits and Credits has 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.”
For advice on recognising these scams and how to report them, go to GOV.UK.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net