Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Emails appearing to come from the Tax Man!

I have had a few emails this week which appear to have come from the tax man. Gulp! But the tax man wouldn't know my email address, so what's all this about then? (And, of course, I would always have paid all the tax I owed anyway.)

The emails say they have come from "HM Revenue and Customs [no-reply@hmrc.gov.uk]" which looks genuine enough. But the "From" field is easily spoofed in an email, and can be discounted.

The subject is "Notice of Underreported Income", and the email says,

Taxpayer ID: michael-00000199157518UK
Issue: Unreported/Underreported Income (Fraud Application)

Please review your tax statement on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website (click on the link below):

review tax statement for taxpayer id: michael-00000199157518UK

HM Revenue and Customs

It all looks very official and scary and it would be very easy to click on the link (which I have removed from this example). If you did so you would get to a web site which looks like the tax man's web site, but it would ask you for lots of personal details, probably including bank account details, date of birth, mother's maiden name, etc.

Has the tax man ever asked you for your email address? No, he will only write official letters in worry-brown envelopes, (although that may change soon).

You shouldn't be tempted to click such links, even if you are interested to see what the web page does look like. It may also send a virus to your computer. You should also resist the temptation to respond to such emails with an abusive tirade. The sender has carefully hidden their tracks and your email will be sent to an innocent 3rd party whose system has been hacked into.

You would be better off writing to your MP demanding to know why the Govt hasn't taken some very simple steps which could stop this type of scam email instantly. (But your MP is too worried about being caught fiddling his expenses to be concerned about you being scammed.)

© Michael Donkin 2009