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Fraudulent emails on the rise as tax credit deadline looms

Fraudulent emails on the rise as tax credit deadline looms

HMRC has warned tax credit claimants to be wary of bogus emails as the renewal deadline draws nearer.

Claims for tax credits must be renewed by the 31st of July, and as with the majority of Revenue deadlines, fraudsters tend to step up their illegal activities as the deadline looms. They send out phishing emails that promise victims a tax rebate if they click on a link. The link takes them to a replica HMRC website, where the victim is asked to provide sensitive information such as passwords or bank details.

This information is then used to clean out bank accounts, or sold to criminal gangs who specialise in identity fraud.

Between April and July 2011, the Revenue received more than 94,000 reports of fake emails. Despite helping to close down at least 360 fraudulent sites, HMRC says that more are still springing up and trapping the public.

The Revenue’s Steve Lamey said the department never telephones people to say they are due a refund, nor does it inform them by email. The only form of notification used is a letter that will arrive by post.

He went on to advise anyone who does receive a suspect email to forward it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and then delete it from their email system completely.

It seems that however hard the government tries to put a stop to this illegal behaviour, the fraudsters still manage to fight back. Whilst modern technology has enhanced our lives in many ways, it has also opened the floodgates to unscrupulous fraudsters whose sole aim in life appears to be to fleece honest taxpayers.

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