Tax Refund Phishing Scam
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HM Revenue & Customs Refund of Overpayments Phishing Scam

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Email purporting to be from the UK tax department HM Revenue & Customs claims that the recipient has made tax overpayments over the last three years and is therefore owed a refund. The recipient is instructed to fill in a form contained in an attached file to claim the repayment.

Brief Analysis

The message is not from HM Revenue & Customs and the recipient is not set to get a refund. It is a phishing scam designed to trick people into giving their personal and financial information to Internet criminals.

Example

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Date: 11/09/2013 

Dear Applicant:

Following an upgrade of our computer systems and review of our records we have investigated your payments and latest tax returns over the last three years our calculation show that that your have made over payments of GBP 323.52

Due to high volume of refunds due you must complete the online application, the telephone helpline is unable to assist with this application. In order to process your refund you will need to complete the application form attached to this email. Your refund may take up to 6 weeks to process, please make sure
you complete the form correctly.

NOTE: If you’ve received an Income Tax ‘repayment’ it will either be following a claim you’ve made or becouse HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has received new information about your taxable income or entitlement to allowances. The refund may come through your tax code or as a payment and could relate to the current tax year or earlier years.

An Income Tax repayments is a refund of tax that you’ve overpaid.So, if you’ve paid too much tax for example through your job or pension this year or in previous years HMRC will send you a repayment.

You’ll get the repayment by bank transfer directly in your credit or debit card.

Sincerely,
David Walter
HMRC Tax Credit Office
TAX REFUND ID: UK381716220-HMRC

HMRC Tax Refund Scam Email

 

Detailed Analysis

According to this email, UK tax agency, HM Revenue & Customs has recently reviewed its records and discovered that the recipient has made tax overpayments over the last three years. Therefore, explains the message, the recipient is owed a refund and can claim it by opening an attached file and filling in an application form.

However, the email is not from HM Revenue & Customs. Instead, it is a phishing scam designed to trick people into giving their financial and personal information to criminals.
Those who fall for the scam and open the attached file will see the following form open in their web browser:

HMRC tax refund scam website

The bogus form asks for a large amount of personal and financial information. Clicking the “Submit Information” button will send all of the victim’s data to criminals. They can then use the stolen information to commit credit card fraud and identity theft.

HMRC will never send tax refund notifications via an unsolicited email. Nor would it ever expect taxpayers to submit sensitive information via an unsecure form sent via an email attachment.

Fake tax refund notifications are a common criminal ruse. Various incarnations of the scam are distributed almost continually and target taxpayers in several countries. Some versions try to entice users to click a link to visit a bogus website rather than open an attachment.

If you receive one of these tax refund messages, do not open any attachments or click any links that it contains.  

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer