Tax man warns of phone and phishing scams

The UK's tax collector HM Revenue and Customs is warning taxpayers to be aware following reports that scammers are using bogus web sites, e-mails and phone calls to dupe them.

The Government organisation says that despite its efforts and the closure of 180 dodgy web sites, criminals are now targeting people using the telephone. Many of the scams are thought to originate outside of the UK and illegal operations have already been shut down in Austria, Mexico, South Korea, the USA, Thailand and Japan.

"The fraudsters inform taxpayers they are due a tax rebate, and ask for their bank card details over the phone," says the warning. "They then attempt to take money from the account using the details provided. Victims risk having their bank accounts emptied and their personal details sold on to other organised criminal gangs."

“We only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post," said HMRC spokesman Chris Hopson. "We never use telephone calls, emails or external companies in these circumstances. We strongly urge anyone receiving such a phone call not to give any information to the caller, but report it to the police.

“If customers receive an email claiming to be from HMRC, we recommend they send it to us for investigation before deleting it permanently.”

The tax office said it recently received 10,000 reports of phishing scams in a single day.