HM Revenue and Customs officials have warned taxpayers to beware of phishing emails sent out to take advantage of the January 31st tax return deadline. Telling recipients they are due a tax refund, the email asks the user to fill in an online form with their credit card or banking details, reports the BBC.
A spokesman for HMRC said that taxpayers will only be notified of a refund by post. "We never use e-mails, telephone calls or external companies in these circumstances," he said, before adding that anyone who receives such an email should first forward the email to HMRC for investigation, and then delete it.
Over 20,000 fake tax refund emails have been sent out in the past week, and an increase is expected following the January 31st deadline as taxpayers wait to hear about genuine refunds.
Scammers in the UK, Austria, Mexico, South Korea, the USA, Thailand and Japan have already been shut down as a result of investigations by HMRC and law enforcement agencies within the last year.