TAXPAYERS in Northumberland have been warned to be watch out for fake emails that offer them a refund.
The phishing scam involves fraudsters promising people a tax rebate in exchange for personal, credit card or banking details.
However, people who respond risk opening their account to thieves and having their details sold on to criminal gangs.
Emails often link to a clone of HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC’s) genuine website, but HMRC never sends emails about a refund.
It took action to close down 522 illegal sites in 2012, which showed emails that originated from countries including the United States of America, Russia and Japan, as well as central and eastern Europe.
Head of Digital Security Gareth Lloyd said: “We only ever contact customers who are genuinely due tax back in writing, by post. If anyone receives an email offering a tax rebate and claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org before deleting it permanently. HMRC does everything it can to ensure customers are safe online and we are working closely with other law enforcement agencies to target the criminals behind this serious crime.”
People can also check out advice at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htm