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Figures published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) show that 20,750 malicious websites have been taken down over the last year – 29 per cent more than in the previous year.
Although it has brought in cutting-edge technology to tackle the problem, the Revenue is warning the public to remain alert, as substantial amounts of money could be lost by anyone who fall victim to such a site.
Neither HMRC nor banks will ever contact people out of the blue to ask for their PIN, password or bank details.
Mel Stride MP, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “The criminals behind these scams prey upon the public and abuse their trust in Government. We’re determined to stop them.
“HMRC is cracking down harder than ever, as these latest figures show. But we need the public’s help as well. By doing the right thing and reporting suspicious messages you will not only protect yourself, you will protect other potential victims.”
In addition to fake websites, HMRC is also warning of text message and email scams, which purport to be from HMRC, offering refunds. It has said that it never notifies taxpayers of refunds in this way.
An email verification system has been in place since November 2016 to verify that emails actually are from HMRC – it has reportedly already blocked half a billion phishing emails reaching taxpayers.
The Revenue is also trialling technology that detects text messages that suggest they originate from HMRC and stops them being delivered.