HMRC tax refund scams: how to spot a fake rebate email


Updated on 23 June 2017

HMRC tax refund scams are doing the rounds yet again. Here's how to spot a fake rebate email.

What the scam HMRC tax refund emails look like

Though HMRC tax refund scam emails are becoming more slick and sophisticated, there are a few common warning signs to watch out for.

The classics include pressure to act quickly, asking for personal details and dubious links. Take a look at these examples.

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These HMRC scam emails often contain the taxman's logo and official-style reference numbers. However, the dodgy English should set alarm bells ringing.

Often, the email addresses appear genuine too, ending in 'hmrc.gov.uk', much like this one:

However, the second address gives the game away.

Here are some of the reported email addresses used to distribute the tax rebate emails, according to HMRC:

  • reve.alert@hmrc.gov.uk
  • services@hmrc.co.uk
  • noreply@hmrevenue.com
  • service@hmrc.gov.uk
  • service.refund@hmrc.gov
  • secure@hmrc.co.uk
  • hmrc@gov.uk
  • taxes@hmrc.co.uk
  • taxrefund-notice@hmrc.gov.uk
  • taxrefund@hmrc.gov.uk
  • refund-help@hmrc.gov.uk
  • service@online.com
  • email@hmrc.gov.uk
  • refund.alert@hmrc.gov.uk
  • refunds@hmrc.gov.uk
  • srvcs@hmrc.gov.uk
  • alertsonline@hmrc.co.uk
  • info@hmrc.gov.uk
  • rebate@hmrc.gov.uk

The fake phishing website you click through to can also look genuine, as this example demonstrates.

How you can tell the email is a fake

Simple: HMRC never contacts customers who are due a refund by email. It only ever sends such a letter by post.

Similarly, it's worth knowing that HMRC never contacts taxpayers about refunds by telephone, and never uses external companies regarding refunds.

Basically, if it doesn't come in the post from HMRC, it's fake. End of story.

What to do if you receive an email

If you do get an email like this, you should send it to HMRC for investigation before deleting it. Forward all suspicious emails to HMRC at phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

And if you have reason to believe you have been the victim of an email scam, report the issue to your bank/card issuer as soon as possible. 

Get safe online

Remember, phishing emails are common for all sorts of issues. As a rule of thumb, never click on links contained in suspicious emails or open attachments.

You can get more help via the Get Safe Online website or read our top 12 tips to keep you safe online.

If you use online banking, you may also want to read Online banking: how to stay safe. To help you stay one step ahead of online fraudsters, have a look at our guide to common email scams and how to spot them

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