HMRC is cracking down on cybercrime, but taxpayers should still keep eyes peeled for threats

Recent reports suggest that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has been remarkably successful in reducing the number of ‘phishing emails’ sent to taxpayers by fraudsters posing as the tax authority. However, Moore Thompson are reminding our clients to keep their eyes peeled for these common scams – many of which are likely to slip through the net.

HMRC says that its new security measures have managed to intercept as many as 300 million scam emails. However, recent reports suggest that the number of people hit with phishing emails is on the rise and that scammers are getting slowly better at disguising their communications. The Government evidently has a long way to go to fully eradicate the problem.

As part of ambitious anti-cybercrime proposals announced toward the end of 2016, the Revenue has been bestowed with new cyber security software which enables it to effectively ‘scan’ online servers to determine which are – and are not – supposed to be sending emails on behalf of HMRC.

The Revenue is also able to subject all emails to a series of digital ‘checks’ which hope to identify whether a suspicious email is either ‘safe’ or ‘fraudulent’.

Ed Tucker, head of cyber security at HMRC, said: “By introducing a new level of security, we’ve been able to tackle [cyber] threats head-on and almost all attempts to scam taxpayers by pretending to be from an HMRC email address will now fall flat.

“Phishing emails are a major focus for our cyber security team. They’re more than just unwanted messages; they are a means by which criminals look to exploit members of the public and gain access to their personal and financial data”.

However, despite these significant advancements in cyber security, Moore Thompson believe that our clients should always proceed with caution whenever receiving unsolicited contact from HMRC. If in doubt, consult HMRC’s official guidelines to recognising genuine contact here.