Taxpayers have been told to be vigilant following reports that thieves are making phone calls pretending to be the taxman.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has revealed that the fraudsters inform taxpayers they are due a tax rebate, and ask for their bank card details over the phone.
They then attempt 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.
The warning comes amid a recent surge in the number of tax scam phishing emails being reported to HMRC.
In the last three months, HMRC has shut down over 180 websites that were responsible for sending out the fake tax rebate emails.
"We only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post," said Chris Hopson, director of customer contact at HMRC.
"We never use telephone calls, emails or external companies in these circumstances.
"We strongly urge anyone receiving such a phone call not to give any information to the caller, but report it to the police straightaway.
"If customers receive an email claiming to be from HMRC, we recommend they send it to us for investigation before deleting it permanently."
Tips from HMRC to avoid being stung by tax scams:
1. Check the advice published at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htm to see if the email you have received is listed
2. Forward suspicious emails to HMRC at email@example.com and then delete it from your computer/mail account
3. Do not click on websites, links contained in suspicious emails or open attachments
4. Follow advice from www.getsafeonline.co.uk
People who think they have been the victim of an email scam have been advised to report the matter to their bank/card issuer as soon as possible.
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