Look out for fake emails and texts said to be from TV Licensing or from HMRC.
Fake TV Licensing websites
Action Fraud has received more than 5,000 reports about fake emails and texts purporting to be from TV Licensing.
The messages contain links to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information.
The organisation says: “Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.”
Beware malicious contact purporting to be from HMRC
Action Fraud has also noted an increase in the reporting of malicious calls, voicemails, text messages or emails to members of the public purporting to be from HMRC.
The fraudsters say that as a result of non-payment of tax or other duty, the victim is liable to prosecution, or other legal proceedings such as repossession of belongings, to settle the balance, but this can be avoided by arrangement for a payment to be made immediately through, for example, bank transfer, or by iTunes gift cards.
If the victim is hesitant or refuses to comply, the suspect makes a threat such as immediate arrest, bailiffs, or, in cases where the victim appears to be of overseas origin, deportation.
Often, the period for which the tax is allegedly due is distant enough to guarantee the victim will have little, if any, paperwork, or ability to verify the claims. Once the money is paid the fraudsters sever all contact.
Action Fraud say it is vital that the public exercises caution when receiving messages or telephone calls of this nature.
They say what you need to do is:
Question unsolicited requests
Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information. Just because someone knows your basic details, such as your name and contact details, it doesn’t mean they are genuine.
Instead you should contact the company directly using trusted methods, such as a known email address or phone number.
Listen to your instincts. If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it. No genuine organisation will ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using iTunes Gift Cards, or any other type of voucher.
Don’t be pressured
Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Under no circumstances would a genuine bank, or some other trusted organisation force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.
Report phishing attempts. If you receive a call, text, or email of this nature, and have not lost money report this as a phishing attempt to Action Fraud.