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Fake rebates warning

Shropshire tax payers have been warned to be on the lookout for scam emails that promise them a tax rebate.

Keith Winter, of Dyke Yaxley Chartered Accountants, in Shrewsbury, said with the self-assessment deadline looming, HM Revenue and Customs were concerned about the latest round of "phishing" emails.

"The emails claim to be from HMRC and notify the recipient that they are due a tax rebate.

"The email then links to a clone of HMRC's website and asks for bank or credit card details which are used to empty the victim's bank accounts

"In the last three months, HMRC has helped to shut down 185 websites responsible for this kind of email, but with the 31 January deadline coming up, they fear there will be even more appearing."

Keith said tax payers should be reminded that HMRC only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post.

"They don't use telephone calls, emails or external companies to notify customers, so tax payers must stay alert and not get caught out."

Anyone who receives an email claiming to be from HMRC should send it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and then delete it permanently from their computer system.

"It's vital that tax payers protect their personal financial information at all times, particularly at this time of year when tax matters are so topical as this is the season when fraudsters are more likely to strike."

Keith said if anyone felt they may have been the victim of an email scam, they should report it to their bank or card issuer as soon as possible so that action could be taken immediately.

Keith Winter