If you are an IT contractor you may be well aware of the term ‘phishing’. However for the rest of us please note that it is not to be confused with ‘fishing’! Phishing is the name given to the act of emailing someone in order to get their personal information, for instance passwords or bank account details.
Fraudsters are spending time ensuring that their emails look as close to the ‘real thing’ as is possible so that you will be interested enough to click through to the link they provide within it. If you are ‘non-IT savvy’ you may not realise just how easy it is to copy a logo from a genuine website and insert it into an email. Thus making the email seem genuine.
On clicking the link you will be taken to a bogus website where you will be encouraged to enter your personal details and the rest, as they say, is history when you find your bank account empty!
One such phishing email that fraudsters have been delighting us with over many years has been the ‘you have a tax refund’ email. The old phrase ‘too good to be true’ readily springs to mind.
HMRC state that if you were to be informed of a tax rebate it would never be by email, they would never ask you to disclose any personal or payment information in this manner and are fully aware of these scams. So much so that they have a dedicated section to phishing emails on their website (see here); providing samples of how they look, a list of fake email addresses and also hints and tips to keeping you safe online. If, however, you have disclosed your personal information in reply to one of these emails, HMRC explain what you should do.
On a happier note, if you think you have overpaid tax and are due a refund you can always check out their tax calculator here.