By Max Clarke

As the tax credits deadline looms, HM Revenue & Customs have issued a warning about the growing threat of ‘phishing’ scams.

Customers are being sent unsolicited emails decorated with official HMRC emblems. The email informs the recipient they are due a tax rebate, and provides a click-through link to a cloned replica of the HMRC website. The recipient is asked to provide their credit or debit card details.

Fraudsters then try to take money from the account using the details provided. Victims risk having their bank accounts emptied and their personal details sold on to other organised criminal gangs.

Some 46,000 emails have been reported so far this year, as the problem continues to grow.

“We currently only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post,” said Joan Wood, HMRC’s online and digital chief. “We don’t use telephone calls, emails or external companies in these circumstances. If anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to before deleting it permanently.”

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