Reports of HMRC branded phishing scams have jumped from 572,029 to 1,069,522 in the last year – a surge of 87%- according data obtained by accountancy group Lanop Outsourcing .
The figures show that reports of suspected SMS scams also increased by 52% last year, rising from 67,497 to 102,562 attacks.
In addition, email scams grew by 109%, rising from 301,170 to 630,193, and reports of phone call scams increased 66%, from 203,362 to 336,767.
Of the scams listed, the majority were tax rebate or refund scams which rose by 90% from 363,118 and 690,522. Furthermore, voice scam attacks rose by 66%, jumping from 203,362 to 336,767.
Tim Sadler, CEO of Tessian, an email security software group, said: “Impersonating an authoritative organisation like HMRC is a tried and tested way for cybercriminals to create a sense of urgency and fear, in order to manipulate people into sharing financial information or credentials via phishing or smishing scams.
“Sadly, spotting the scams isn’t always easy, and hackers are making them even harder to detect. The general rule is to never click on links in unexpected texts or emails, even if you feel under pressure. Remember, you can always verify the request is real by calling the company directly or checking your online account.”
Aurangzaib Chawla, director at Lanop Outsourcing, added: “With businesses on a fragile road to recovery following the Covid-19 crisis, it’s vital to remain vigilant about the very real risks posed by HMRC-branded scams.”