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U.K. taxpayers target of tax refund phishing scam

Sure, King George III's pesky tea tax served as a catalyst for the United States' rebellion against Great Britain.

King George III_National Portrait Gallery-LondonKing George III in 1755, courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London. Click image to hear G3's first song, which mentions the tea to-do, in the Broadway musical "Hamilton."

But once we worked through that independence thing, we Americans discovered that we still have a lot in common with the United Kingdom.

And that includes, unfortunately, tax scams.

U.K. HMRC tax phishing: Taxpayers across the pond have been getting phishing emails from tax crooks encouraging them to download an attached document in order to get a refund that, amazingly, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, also known as HMRC (the U.K. version of our Internal Revenue Service), has just discovered.

How convenient. And criminal. Wherever you are in the world, don't fall for this!

The fake emails, according to Malwarebytes Labs, claim to be an automated tax refund of £796.86 for British taxpayers.

UK phishing tax scam

In case you're reading this on a small device, the email pictured above says:

Automated Tax Refund Notification

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity, we determined that you are aligible to receive a tax refund of 796.86 £    .
Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 10-14 days in order to process it.

To access your tax refund, please follow the steps bellow:

- Download the Tax Refund attached to this email
- Open it in a browser
- Follow the instructions on your screen

NOTE: A refund can be delayed a variety of reasons , for exemple submitting invalid records or applying after deadline.

Revenue and Tax Administrator

Note the misspellings of eligible as "aligible" and example as "exemple." Grammar mistakes are a major tip-off that a purportedly official communication is fake.

If, however, you gloss over those and do click on the attachment -- which, by the way, YOU SHOULD NEVER DO! -- Malwarebytes says -- and I'm taking the site's word for it because I WOULD NEVER CLICK ON A LINK FROM AN UNSOLICITED UNKNOWN SENDER! -- the attachment opens up to a fake HMRC phishing page.

Different county, same personal data request: Once there, you're asked for the usual personal information crooks want. This includes your name, email, date of birth, city, phone number and credit card details.

If U.K. taxpayers follow the phishing directions -- WHICH YOU SHOULDN'T! -- and hit the send button, the crooks get your data and access to your tax account and likely other personal financial accounts.

Go directly to the source: Just like its U.S. tax agency counterpart, the official HMRC site has a number of pages with warnings and information on tax themed scams and how you can spot them.

Back here at the ol' blog, I'm really sorry for yelling at you in this post. I know my readers, in the United States and worldwide, are tax and tech savvy and wouldn't dare fall for such transparent tax crook tricks.

But these sleazy criminals really tick me off and when I get angry, I tend to raise my voice, both audibly and in writing.

As my mother used to say, I yell because I care.

And I want every taxpayer, be you in the U.S., U.K. or anywhere on our blue dot, to take care when it comes to personal data and possible identity theft and tax fraud schemes.

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