TAXPAYERS are being urged to watch out for tax refund scam texts claiming to be from HMRC.
The tax authority issued the warning as it reports a surge in this type of fraud, which tricks people into handing over their bank details.
Fraudsters send out more tax refund scam emails and texts during April and May because it’s when HMRC processes rebates.
Last spring, fraudsters sent out nearly 2,500 phishing messages a day, adding up to 250,000 in total.
HMRC is warning young adults in particular who may have less experience of the tax system and how it works.
One victim, known as John, told the BBC that he’d fallen for one of these scams.
He said he’d received a text message telling him he was due a tax rebate of £462 early in the morning.
Through bleary eyes, he believed it – and clicked through to a website that looked almost identical to HMRC’s official page.
But it was a scam – and John ended up handing over his bank details to fraudsters.
He’s now reported the breach and has put in place extra security on his accounts – but is now “cringing” at falling for the fraud.
“You don’t need to tell me I’m an idiot,” he said.
“I know I’m an idiot, this is one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever done.”
How to avoid being scammedHERE are some tips about HMRC on how to avoid being taken in by the fraudsters.
Recognise the signs – Genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.
Stay safe – Don’t give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren’t expecting.
Take action – Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to firstname.lastname@example.org and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use their online fraud reporting tool.
Check – If you think you have received an HMRC related phishing/bogus email or text message, you can check it against the examples shown in this guide.
Contact HMRC directly – You can find the list of genuine numbers to call HMRC here.
HMRC is now urging people to report these texts if they receive one.
Angela MacDonald, head of customer services at HMRC, said: “We are determined to protect honest people from these fraudsters who will stop at nothing to make their phishing scams appear legitimate.
“HMRC is currently shutting down hundreds of phishing sites a month.
“If you receive one of these emails or texts, don’t respond and report it to HMRC so that more online criminals are stopped in their tracks.”
If you think you are owed a tax rebate, HMRC will issue the repayment automatically.
Alamy Watch out for texts from HMRC as it could be a scam
It will either be deposited directly into your bank account, or you’ll be sent a cheque in the post if you have not provided a bank account on your tax return.
If you have not paid enough tax, HMRC will tell you how much you owe and how you can pay securely.
Katy Worobec of Take Five, a campaign which advises on protection against financial fraud, said: “The offer of a tax rebate might sound tempting, but don’t let the criminals hoodwink you into giving away your details or your cash.
“If you’re worried that you might have given away any of your information, then contact your bank straight away.”
SHOP TILL YOU DROP Here’s Westfield Easter 2019 opening hours for Stratford and White City HANDY TO KNOW Ikea Easter 2019 opening times – bank holiday Monday opening hours SHOP SMART Easter 2019 opening times for Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl POST-IT NOTE Here’s when the Post Office will be open over Easter HAPPY EASTER MEAL McDonald’s Easter opening hours – bank holiday Monday opening times SPRING BREAK Costco Easter 2019 opening hours – bank holiday weekend opening times
Meanwhile, Instagram users are being warned over a nasty scam that hands over your details to crooks.
And TSB has become the first high street bank to pay back ALL fraud victims – but we’re calling on others to follow suit.
We’ve put together a guide to keeping your cash safe and how to prevent being a victim of fraud.
Listen to the scary HMRC scam where fraudsters claim there’s a warrant out for your arrest
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team? Email us at email@example.com