Advisers are urged by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to warn expatriate clients to be on their guard against falling victim to ‘phishing' emails sent out by fraudsters in the run-up to the self-assessment deadline of 31 January.
Expatriates are a particularly vulnerable group targeted by such scams as they are much more likely to respond to a seemingly “official emailed instruction.”
The scam email doing the rounds right now tells the recipient they are due a tax rebate, and provides a link to a clone of HMRC's website where the recipient is asked to give their credit card or bank details. Fraudsters then try to take money from the account using the details provided. HMRC warns that victims are at risk from having their bank accounts emptied and their personal details sold on to other organised criminal gangs.
Over the last quarter, HMRC says it has assisted in shutting down as many as 185 websites that have been responsible for sending out the fake tax rebate emails.
Joan Wood, Director of HMRC Online and Digital, said advisers can tell their clients that, "We only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post. We currently 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 [email protected] before deleting it permanently.”
HMRC’s investigation into overseas phishing attacks is ongoing. Scam networks have previously been shut down in various countries, including Austria, Mexico, the UK, South Korea, the USA, Thailand and Japan.
Three years at the Treasury
Address key mistakes
Letter from the frontline
Breaching SEC rules
In Leeds since 1969