A fake email purporting to be from HMRC is circulating, telling people they’re eligible for a ‘government grant’. Here’s a copy so you know what to watch out for.
26/01/20: ‘Lockdown support plan’ grants
Fake GOV UK communications continue to circulate, with a dodgy ‘lockdown support plan’ text now attempting to catch people out:
Fortunately most web browsers, such as Google Chrome in this example, will recognise that the URL is a phishing attempt and provide a warning:
Despite these warning messages, it’s still worth treating any email or text you receive out of the blue with suspicion.
Beware of bogus links relating to the pandemic and follow the advice we’ve provided in our vaccine scam warning, which will help you identify fraudulent messages.
02/10/20: fake HMRC emails
Any email that makes it past a spam filter may catch someone off guard, especially when its faked branding is slick and familiar to the recipient.
That’s exactly the case with this phishing email, which states that ‘you are eligible to make a claim for a second and final grant’:
This is yet another scam using GOV.UK branding attempting to steal your bank details and/or other personal information.
More fake government emails
Much like the council tax scam email we covered back in May, it’s also designed to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.
An HMRC spokesperson said:
“Criminals are taking advantage of the package of measures announced by the government to support people and businesses affected by coronavirus.
Scammers text, email or phone taxpayers offering spurious financial support or tax refunds, sometimes threatening them with arrest if they don’t immediately pay fictitious tax owed.
HMRC has detected 130 COVID-related financial scams since March, most by text message. We have asked Internet Service Providers to take down more than 144 web pages associated with these scam campaigns.
Several of the scams mimic government messages as a way of appearing authentic and unthreatening.
If someone texts, emails or calls claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks for credit card or bank details, it might be a scam. Check GOV.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact.
We have a dedicated Customer Protection Team in our Cyber Security Operations and work is always ongoing to identify and close down scams”
Aside from the unrelated email address this scam has arrived from, there’s a lot about it that could make you think it’s genuine; the subject line even includes a reference number, while the general look and feel mimics legitimate emails and the text is generally clear.
But if you do click through on the link, you’ll be taken to a fake website where you’ll be asked to hand over sensitive information.
Spotting phishing scam attempts
With criminals attempting to take advantage of the current global situation, it’s more important than ever that you carefully check over any emails you receive out of the blue, especially when they’re encouraging you to provide personal data.
Our guide on how to spot a scam email can help cover the basic checks you need to do, while all the scams we’ve covered here on Which? Conversation are worth a read to show the different techniques involved in a phishing email.
If you’re unsure, contact the organisation or brand involved directly via its official channels. You can find HMRC’s here.
You can also report phishing to HMRC on firstname.lastname@example.org and 60599 for texts.
Have you received this fake HMRC email? Have you had any others lately? Let us know in the comments.