Taxpayers have been warned of a surge in fake 'phishing' emails sent out by fraudsters in the run-up to the tax credits renewal deadline.
Raising the alert, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said 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 then asked to provide their credit or debit card details, before fraudsters attempt to take money from the account using the details provided.
HMRC said victims risk having their bank accounts emptied and their personal details sold on to other organised criminal gangs.
Since the beginning of April, when the first tax credits renewals forms were sent out to claimants, more than 46,000 phishing emails have been reported by customers.
HMRC has helped shut down more than 150 scam websites during the same period.
Joan Wood, director of HMRC online and digital, said the organisation currently only ever contacts customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post.
"We don't use telephone calls, emails or external companies in these circumstances," she added.
"If anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org before deleting it permanently."
If you have reason to believe that you have been the victim of an email scam, report the matter to your bank/card issuer as soon as possible.
If in doubt, please check with HMRC
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