HM Revenue and Customers has issued a warning to taxpayers not to be caught out by email phishing scams offering tax rebates in return for bank account or credit card details.
HMRC received 23,247 reports of phishing emails in the three months prior to the tax return deadline, up 47% on the same period a year earlier.
The department shut down 178 websites connected to the scam emails last month, representing a 173% increase on the 65 that were closed in January 2013.
Recipients are urged to notify HMRC if they find themselves targeted.
HMRC head of digital security Gareth Lloyd said: "HMRC never contacts customers who are due a tax refund via email - we always send a letter through the post.
"If you receive an email claiming to be from HMRC which offers a tax rebate, please send it to [email protected] and then delete it permanently. We can, and do, close these websites down, and do all we can to ensure taxpayers stay safe online by working with law enforcement agencies around the world to target the criminals behind these scams."
Putting the tech into protection
Square Mile’s series of informal interviews
Fallout from Haywood suspension
Launching later in 2019
£80bn funds under calculation