Contractors working through umbrella companies or limited companies may wish to take heed of a recent warning from HMRC- beware a new phishing scam.  Timed to coincide with the run-up up to the deadline for tax credits renewals, the fake emails inform recipients that they are entitled to a tax rebate.  By simply following a click-through link, respondents are told that they can claim their refunds.

However, beware – the HMRC website you will arrive at is a cloned replica.  If you comply with the inevitable requests for your debit or credit card details once you are there, you will have just handed your information over to fraudsters – who then try to siphon as much money as they can from your account.  Victims can find their details sold on to other cyber-crime gangs as well as having their bank accounts emptied.

The first tax credits renewal forms were sent out by HMRC in April.  Since then, customers have reported over 46,000 phishing emails.  Although the Revenue has so far managed to close down more than 150 fraudulent websites, the organisation’s Director of HMRC Online and Digital, Joan Wood, has clarified that the organisation only ever contacts customers about any due tax rebates by letter.  She added, “We don’t use telephone calls, emails, or external companies in these circumstances.  If anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting it permanently.”

The email frequently begins with words such as “we have reviewed your tax return and our calculations of your last year’s accounts a tax refund of X is due.” This is one gift-horse whose mouth you should definitely look into very carefully.

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