15 Sep 2011

U.K. tax department said tax phishing emails has risen 300 percent in last year

There has been a large rise in the number of phishing emails the U.K.'s tax collection arm. Antiphishing software may soon be in order for those who were duped by the scam.

HM Revenue and Customs said the number of reports of phishing emails it has received has gone up about 300 percent in the past year, news sources said. About 24,000 of these emails were reported to the HMRC in August of this year. HMRC says that the recipient is due a tax rebate and provides a click-through link to a replica of the HMRC's website. The tax collection unit said it is currently helping shut down about 100 scam websites a month.

"We only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post," said Joan Wood, director of HMRC Online and Digital. "We currently don't use telephone calls, emails or external companies in these circumstances. If anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting it permanently."

Wood said the increase in reports is partly due to improved awareness of the scam, but said she has no doubt that more phishing emails are in circulation. Antiphishing software is available for anyone that may fear receiving one of these emails and not knowing it.