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Warning of wave of tax scams after fake HMRC email reported – how to stay safe

Britons have been urged to be vigilant of scams after a fake HMRC email was reported featuring a bogus link to the Government website.

The fake email allegedly from ‘H.M.R.C’ included the message: “We have sent you a letter regarding Energy Bill Support Scheme. Check it today in order to get your funds released.”

The message includes a URL link that generates a ‘Welcome to GOV.UK’ button, appearing to link to the Government website.

Martina King, CEO, of scam prevention group Featurespace, warned that scammers often use button generation with an embedded link like this, to try and make their messages appear genuine.

She told Express.co.uk: “These types of links are often found in the body of fraudulent emails and can also be used to mask sender addresses in emails.

“It is common fraudster behaviour to take advantage of national calendar moments when people may be looking out for communication from a particular person or organisation.

“The energy cap changes are very much on the news right now, and it is typical that we see these opportunistic criminals try to capitalise on current events that are front of mind.”

The Energy Bills Support Scheme was a £400 energy bills payment that went out to all UK households over the 2022 to 2023 tax year, with similar cost of living payments going out over the past tax year.

Ms King said that tax phishing emails and scams are also very common around this time of year with the end of the financial year.

She said this is an example of ‘newsjacking’, as fraudsters exploit genuine financial events to make their ploys look credible.

Carolyn Matravers, chartered financial planner at Bluebell Financial Management, said it is worrying how authentic these message can apear.

But there are things ou can do to avoid being taken in by these scams. Ms Matravers said: “The general rule of thumb is that if you aren’t expecting a notification or even if you are and it is a different amount to what you were expecting, stop, don’t ring the number on the correspondence, but google them and ring their main office number.

“If you can’t do it yourself, then ask a family member of friend. Scams like this highlight the importance of keeping family involved and not being a ‘secret squirrel’ about finances.

“Often the pride issue can result in someone taking a call, falling foul of a scammer and then worrying about it. This can have a huge impact on their mental and physical health.”

She urged people to be mindful that anyone can be taken in by a scam. She commented: “I regularly get HMRC texts warning of fines.

“As a new business owner this does worry you, but if you search the number, you often see it is recorded as a known scam. It isn’t age dependant and so we all need to be kind and supportive to those who succumb.”

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