Any users of Gmail, Outlook and Hotmail should be wary of two new email scams that are on the rise, which play directly on people’s fears regarding the recent rise in the cost of living by offering false tax refunds or help with claiming Government energy rebates.
The first one is an unsolicited email claiming to be from the HMRC which states they are owed money by the taxman. The email claims that it’s due to an overpayment during the last financial year. The recipient is invited to clink on a link to claim a refund, but this takes them to a fake website. Here the user will be asked to input personal and financial informationwhich the fraudsters use to take unauthorised payments or sell on to other unscrupulous third parties.
If you receive the scam message, you can report it by forwarding it to:firstname.lastname@example.org
Spotting a scam email:
➢ Watch out for typos – official correspondence shouldn’t have these mistakes.
➢ Double check the email address of the sender. An official email from an organisation in question should be sent from an email account attached to an official domain name. If the sender’s email is from a domain name that is similar to an official one, but not quite right, or is even from a Hotmail or Google account then this should be a red flag.
➢ If you are still unsure, then contact the organisation to double-check the message received is genuine. This may take a bit more time, it could save you a lot of heartache in the long run.
The second scam alert relates to an email claiming to be from the energy regulator Ofgem, offering help in claiming the Government-backed rebate to go towards your energy bills.
Here are a few steps you can take if you receive an unsolicited email:
➢ Stop – think before parting with your money or information.
➢ Challenge – could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
➢ Protect – if you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
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