News Article

IT & Internet

Equifax highlights increase in fraudsters targeting SMEs and self-employed

By CreditMan Thursday, April 30, 2009

With April marking the start of the new tax year, there appears to have been a new wave of email phishing scams targeting tax payers who fill out self-assessment forms. The warning of this risk, which is particularly great for the self-employed and SME’s, comes from leading ID fraud expert, Equifax.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has updated its website, highlighting a high number of new phishing emails being sent claiming that recipients are eligible for a tax refund. And Neil Munroe, External Affairs Director, Equifax, is urging anyone who fills in a self-assessment form to be on the look out for phishing scams, which are being used to steal User IDs and passwords.

“Fraudsters seem to be targeting tax payers around key deadlines and they are using the very enticing promise of tax refunds! Many of these emails can look very convincing for people who don’t know what to look for. But the crucial thing to remember is that HMRC would always notify individuals of tax refunds by post, rather than email or telephone. A fraudulent email often has an embedded link, taking the recipient to a fake website, where they are encouraged to reveal bank or credit card details but anyone who provides their details risks their accounts being emptied and fraudsters maxing out their credit cards.

“Phishing scams are becoming more and more sophisticated, in order to fool the unsuspecting. Indeed, with APACS, the UK payments association, reporting in March that online banking fraud losses had increased by a staggering 132% year on year, it is essential that tax payers recognise the threat of fraud and learn how to recognise a fake email. HMRC is also warning people about a rise in fraudulent telephone calls, asking for passwords and secure information. So make sure you know who you are talking to and always check before responding to emails.”


* Organisations like HMRC never ask for personal details via email
Tax refunds are always notified by post
* Check for the padlock symbol in the bottom right hand corner of your web browser when you log on to HMRC Online Services
* Look for your name at the top of the email – fraudulent emails won’t address you personally
* Links may take you to a website that looks genuine, but is probably fake
Never give out personal information
* Delete phishing emails immediately
* If you have been a victim tell your bank immediately
* Sign up for a service like Equifax Credit Watch to alert you of any fraudulent activity