HMRC warns of phishing surge

Fraudulent “phishing” emails purporting to be from the taxman have risen by about 300% over the past year, according to HMRC.

The emails typically include hyperlinks to a cloned replica of the HMRC website, which asks the recipient to provide their credit or debit card details. Criminals can then use the details to empty someone’s bank account and sell the personal information to other organised criminal gangs.

HMRC said that almost 24,000 such emails were reported to it in August alone – an increase of nearly 300% compared to the same month last year. As previously reported on AccountingWEB.co.uk, online fraudsters have flooded taxpayers’ email in-boxes since the government department’s was created in 2005.

HMRC said that it is helping to shut down around 100 scam websites a month. Anyone who receives a suspicious email should forward it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting it.

Meanwhile, HMRC has published information security guidance for tax agents who use online services when handling their clients’ tax affairs. HMRC recommends that, for security reasons, agents regularly change their password for the Government Gateway - the website for accessing government online services - at least once every three months.

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