HMRC has warned expats who are filing out self-assessment tax returns to be wary of scam emails, also known as ‘phishing’ emails.
Expats who are filing online overseas in the run up to the January 31 deadline are said to be the target of e-criminals who are sending fake emails informing the recipient that they are in line to receive a tax rebate. The email then directs to a meticulously recreated fake HMRC website.
On the fake site the recipient is prompted to enter their bank and credit card details, which the criminals will then use in an attempt to plunder money from the victim’s accounts.
In the worst case victims of such a scam not only risk having their bank accounts completely emptied, but their details are then passed on to other criminal gangs for further targeting.
In the last three months alone, HMRC has worked to bring down 185 scam websites all over the world, in places like Austria, Mexico, South Korea, the USA, Thailand and Japan.
An HMRC spokesman warned: “We only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post. If anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to HMRC before deleting it permanently. HMRC will do everything possible to ensure those people receiving this email know what steps to take to protect their information, and we are working closely with other law enforcement agencies to target the criminals behind this serious crime and see them brought to justice.”