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HMRC warns of tax credit email scams

HMRC has warned of a surge in the number of ‘phishing’ e-mails from fraudsters, ahead of the 31 July deadline for people to submit their tax credit renewal forms.

More than 46,000 fake e-mails have been reported to HMRC since the first tax credit renewal forms were sent out at the beginning of April, and some 150 scam websites have been closed down.

In a typical scam, an e-mail is sent suggesting the recipient is due a refund, and asking them to click on a link that directs them to a clone of the official HMRC website.

Victims are instructed to enter their debit or credit card details, after which the fraudsters can access their accounts and sell on personal details.

Joan Wood, director of HMRC online and digital, said: "We currently only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post. We do not use telephone calls, e-mails or external companies in these circumstances.”

People are advised not to open any suspicious e-mails, but instead to forward them on to HMRC’s phishing reporting address at phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting them.