HMRC warns of sharp increase in ‘scam’ websites

Earlier this month, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) put out a press release warning taxpayers to watch out for fraudulent websites posing as genuine HMRC resources.

According to HMRC’s own research, a ‘record’ 20,750 malicious sites have been taken down in the past 12 months alone – 29 per cent more than the number of ‘fake’ HMRC websites that had to be removed the previous year.

The Revenue also warned that other types of scams were still common – such as phishing emails and bogus text messages.

Such opportunistic scams are usually distributed to taxpayers at random, in an attempt to trick the recipient into opening an attachment or clicking a hyperlink, or fool them into handing over personal information.

HMRC advised online users to report websites, individuals and organisations if they suspect they are involved in fraudulent activity. More importantly, it also pointed out that no reputable bank or official Government organisation will ask a user to hand over their PIN, password or bank details.

Commenting, Mel Stride MP, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “The criminals behind these scams prey on the public and abuse their trust in Government. We’re determined to stop them.

“HMRC is cracking down harder than ever, as these latest figures show. But we need the public’s help as well.

“By doing the right thing and reporting suspicious messages you will not only protect yourself, you will protect other potential victims,” he said.