Online crooks have put thousands of fake web sites online to scam millions of pounds from taxpayers on both sides of the Atlantic.
HM Revenue & Customs warns fraudsters are forever coming up with ways to rip-off taxpayers.
In the past 12 months, HMRC has taken 20,750 malicious web sites offline– an increase of 29% over the previous year.
Software has also blocked 250 million scam emails and 1 million phishing attempts involving £2.4 million.
The tax authority is warning HMRC web users to stay alert due to the high risk of losing money to a crook.
In a bid to beat the fraudsters, HMRC has invested in a team of experts and technology to fight the increasing problem of cybercrime.
Fake web sites
HMRC, along with foreign tax authorities like the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), warn that the greatest risk comes from bogus emails and text messages offering tax refunds.
The message contains a link to a fake web site that tries to collect personal data, such as bank details and passwords.
HMRC says customers are never contacted by telephone to request personal information.
Treasury Minister Mel Stride, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “The criminals behind these scams prey on the public and abuse their trust in government. We’re determined to stop them.
“HMRC is cracking down harder than ever, as these latest figures show. But we need the public’s help as well. By doing the right thing and reporting suspicious messages you will not only protect yourself, you will protect other potential victims.”
Don’t click on links
In the US, the IRS also confirms business is not conducted by email, text or social media messaging.
“Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams,” says the IRS.
“Summer is often a peak time for scams as taxpayers have just filed their returns and many are expecting a response from the IRS.”
Both tax authorities advise not to click on links in tax refund messages as they are a tell-tale sign of a scammer at work who want to try and access their bank accounts rather than pay them money.