Beware this tax scam

lovemoney staff
by Lovemoney Staff lovemoney staff on 24 October 2012  |  Comments 21 comments

If an email comes into your inbox promising you a tax refund, don't get too excited - it's likely to be fake.

Beware this tax scam

This article is now out of date. For the latest information, please read Watch out for these HMRC tax refund scams

A new set of scam emails supposedly from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have been sent out in an attempt to con us into handing over our bank details.

I’ve seen two emails, one of which landed in my Junk folder, both of which look fairly genuine and both promising a refund of over £200.

The first, from the email address customers@hmrc.gov.uk, claims that the recipient is due a tax refund of £256.99. It says: “Due to the high volume of refunds you must complete the on line application, the telephone help line is unable to assist with this application.”

There is a link to a website where you are asked to enter your bank details to claim the ‘refund’.

The second scam, which has been highlighted by antivirus software company Bitdefender, looks even more authentic. It has the official HMRC logo and a link to the official website.

Bitdefender says that this scam is more sophisticated in that the online form you are asked to complete downloads on to your computer. This means it bypasses anti-virus systems that might otherwise alert you to the fact that it’s a scam.

An estimated three million people are expected to be contacted about a tax refund between now and October.

However, HMRC will never contact you by email to tell you about a tax refund, only by post. So if you receive an email promising a tax refund, delete it.

More on scams

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Tony Levene's scams blog

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Comments (21)

  • PDB11
    Love rating 75
    PDB11 said

    I got one of those a couple of weeks ago. It appeared to come from hmrc.gov.uk, but it wanted me to log on to hmrc.uk.com. Alarm bells went off in my head, and I went on to the 'net (not by clicking the link!) and dug out that phishing address to forward it to.

    I find that many banks and other places (HMRC included) don't make it particularly easy to find the address to forward scams to, I sometimes have to do quite a bit of digging.

    Report on 02 February 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Rachel11
    Love rating 2
    Rachel11 said

    What really worries me is that this scam has been being used since December 2006 that I'm aware of and this seems to be the first time the press have really gone for it.

    The emails usually start "dear applicant". If YOU haven't applied you can't be an applicant. The reference number won't be any that you have for tax purposes. And I've never heard the Revenue say "fiscal activity" having worked for a couple of decades in the industry.

    The Revenue don't use email by the way, full stop. You can't email them. They can't email you - they don't have the facility to. If you are ever in doubt contact them via numbers printed on documentation they have posted to you.

    Report on 02 February 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • SeaBee
    Love rating 15
    SeaBee said

    Simple: HMRC never contacts customers who

    are due a refund by email. It only ever sends such a letter by post

     So even if the email looks

    as genuine as this one, it's likely to be

    a fake

    No, it is not "likely to be a fake", it will be a fake (see your own preceding paragraph).

    Report on 02 February 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • fenemore
    Love rating 251
    fenemore said

    I agree with all earlier comments. I get at least one of these every week - and without wishing to be unkind, you would have to be a complete idiot to believe it could be genuine.

    Quite simply, NO instituion, be it government, your bank or Paypal would EVER request this information via email.

    Report on 02 February 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • travelmad
    Love rating 4
    travelmad said

    The other thing to consider is -

    Would any government department who owe you money actively try to give it you back?

    Methinks not.

    Report on 02 February 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • jacquesy
    Love rating 0
    jacquesy said

    It would be hard for them to email me, I've never given them my email address. Think that makes it obvious it's a scam.

    Report on 02 February 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • thanet04
    Love rating 13
    thanet04 said

    Hi Rachel11, they do have email and do use it. I file my tax return online each year and always get a confirmation email afterwards

    Report on 02 February 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • atseyes1
    Love rating 4
    atseyes1 said

    This fake e-mail is a lot more professional looking than the previous one I've seen, but one clue surely is the 'Best Regards' at the bottom. would HMRC ever use such a salutation?

    Also, the previous one was laughable, because of the frequency with which it was repeatedly sent to me. surely if you get the same email a dozen or more time within an hour, this has to be a sign that it's a fake?!!

    Report on 02 February 2010  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • liesarenocomfort
    Love rating 134
    liesarenocomfort said

    Quite agree with atseyes1 the giveaway is "Best regards"

    Whatever next? Maybe:

    Lol, HMRC

    Report on 02 February 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Iamcoldsteve
    Love rating 329
    Iamcoldsteve said

    "The massive upsurge in these emails could catch out many people waiting to hear about genuine tax refunds following the end of the tax-year yesterday".

    Really. 31 Jan was the deadline to submittax returns online. I always thought the UK 'tax year' was 6 April to 5 April.

    My accountant does send me details of any tax refunds due to me via email, usually before they submit my tax return. At least then, I know in advance what I am due, which is nice.

    Report on 02 February 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • shumicat
    Love rating 0
    shumicat said

    Yes, you would have to be a fool to think these emails were real but I don't think it's very kind to say so. If you're on this forum you're probably a bit more financially and internet savvy than most. I couldn't guarantee that my very clever - but elderly - father wouldn't realise the difference.

    The cleverness and detail of these phishing websites is truly frightening now. I mark 'phishing scam' to hotmail on about 3 a day. Whether they do anything useful with that I don't know.

    Report on 02 February 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • andie1
    Love rating 0
    andie1 said

    I got one of those emails a few months ago....how scary is this? I worked for Inland Revenue for 15 years and it looked genuine to me for a split second....then I realised the telephone number attached to it is for the Working Family Tax Credits Helpline. I can't imagine how many people have been caught out in this way! I reported it immediately but didn't even receive an acknowledgement that it was bogus! Not great service I'm afraid!

    Report on 02 February 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • leah AKA global leah
    Love rating 17
    leah AKA global leah said

    I have so many emails that comes from banks, ebay and paypal regarding something as crazy as "unusual acitivities", but the one easiest way to know they are actually genuine is to be more broadminded and do the necessary check such as the followings...

    Paypal will ALWAYS email you with your full name, Ebay will ALWAYS email you with your login account name, as for banks, I've only ever get email from them for confirmation of whatever I've applied for. but again, full name.

    I've had tax returned to me a few years ago, and I certainly didn't get an email, things like this are offical, and they want to make sure it doesn't get in the wrong hand, so they will send you a letter instead.

    But if you are not sure, always check with the site, and type in the address rather than click on the link.

    Report on 04 April 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • mandy751
    Love rating 0
    mandy751 said

    I know posts are old now on this, but I regularly receive bank phishing scam emails as in a few every day. The most obvious sign on these and the HMRC phishing scam emails that give them away in an instant is the terrible spelling mistakes!!!! Guaranteed every one of them has at least two or three spelling mistakes. The looks of them are becoming very very realistic using logos etc but the spelling mistakes are always there. 

    Report on 08 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • jenkio
    Love rating 0
    jenkio said

    Ive JUST had one of these Email! The strange this is - I made a call to HM revenue & customs an hour before I got the Email so its almost like they were actually replying from the conversation Id have with them previously. Strange coincidence? 

    Here's what the Email said:

    "From: srvcss@hmrc.gov.uk Subject: Submit Your Payment RefundDate: Tue, 8 Feb 2011 12:57:28 -0500

    Dear Applicant: 

    Following an upgrade of our computer systems and review of our records we have investigated your payments and latest tax returns over the last seven years our calculations show that you have made over payments of GBP 178.25 Due to the high volume of refunds due you must complete the online application, the telephone help line is unable to assist with this application. In oder to process your refund you will need to complete the application form attached to this email.Your refund may take up to 6 weeks to process please make sure you complete the form correctly. NOTE: If you've received an Income Tax ‘repayment’ it will either be following a claim you've made or because HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has received new information about your taxable income or entitlement to allowances. The refund may come through your tax code or as a payment and could relate to the current tax year or earlier years. An Income Tax repayment is a refund of tax that you've overpaid. So, if you've paid too much tax for example through your job or pension this year or in previous years HMRC will send you a repayment. You'll get the repayment by bank transfer directly to your credit or debit card.  -------------------------------------------------------------- Copyright 2011, HM Revenue Customs UK All rights reserved.

    "

    So you can add "srvcss@hmrc.gov.uk" to your list of dodgy email addresses.

    Gits!

    Report on 08 February 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Stargazer
    Love rating 11
    Stargazer said

    Have recently had one from annual.tax@hmrc.gov.uk - another address to add to the list. The salutation is 'Best regards', which as suggested earlier I certainly wouldn't imagine finding at the end of any genuine official correspondence.

    Report on 28 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Bobble71
    Love rating 0
    Bobble71 said

    Jenkio's post saying the email was received shortly after speaking with the Revenue makes me wonder if someone at the Revenue is leaking information, or was it just coincidence?

    Report on 28 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • PoohBah
    Love rating 23
    PoohBah said

    @Bobbie71: Coincidence. Remember, the Inland Revenue quite possibly did not have Jenkio's email address but would certainly have known his/her name; however, it was not used. Similar suspicions arise when a phishing email arrives shortly after some sort of transaction with the named bank. These emails are sent out by the thousands, at random, and in the nature of things the timing of the arrival of some will coincide with such recent activity, tending either to arouse deep suspicion or cause the victim to click on the link without thinking.

    Report on 28 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • yocoxy
    Love rating 152
    yocoxy said

    The example letter is dated 2012 but the comments on this thread started in Feb 2010?

    Report on 29 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    Can we make it clear that the email addresses above are NOT used to send these emails. False/forged email addresses are shown but the emails do not originate from .gov.uk servers and anyone with a hint of internet savvy can view the source email to see that it comes from weird ISP's with no plausible connection to the UK government.

    Report on 29 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • jessica989
    Love rating 0
    jessica989 said

    Iv just become a victim of this email . i received it 2 days ago and usually emails like this would go in my junk file . With xmas round the corner i am a bit short, so when i read the email ( i have never received one before ) i couldn't believe my luck so i stupidly entered my account details not thinking . After a day i realised it was a scam so got on the phone to the bank straight away luckily no money had been taken out so the bank sorted it all out for me . I am only young and a bit naive so i have learnt my lesson . Don't know how anyone could be so heartless to try and scam someone a few weeks before xmas !

    Report on 19 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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