Public Services > Central Government

HMRC’s cyber team takes action on scam websites

David Bicknell Published 09 October 2017

Department has challenged ownership of 75 sites and taken control of them preventing a million visits to malicious or misleading sites

 

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has cracked down on deceptive websites which promote misleading or costly helpline numbers by taking control of them.

Since January this year, HMRC said its cyber security team has taken control of over 75  “dubious sites” by challenging their ownership. Now any members of the public trying to access the sites will be redirected to HMRC’s GOV.UK pages, which provide genuine contact numbers as well as advice on how to spot these misleading sites.

As a result of the work, HMRC said it has redirected over a million customers to GOV.UK, averting a potential one million visits to malicious or misleading websites.

HMRC explained, “When someone searches online for HMRC’s phone numbers or digital services they can be directed to other websites. Some of these promote premium rate, non-HMRC numbers as a means of reaching the department.

“These are in fact call forwarding services which connect callers to HMRC, but at a hefty price, despite HMRC’s own 0300 numbers being free or charged at the national landline rate. In other cases, sites charge for forwarding information to HMRC which can be provided free of charge through GOV.UK.”

Too often, it said, this is an attempt to mislead customers and gain business at their expense, without making clear the service is not affiliated with HMRC.

HMRC’s director for customer services, Angela MacDonald, said, “HMRC takes the abuse of its brand very seriously. Attempts to dupe customers in this way won’t be tolerated and we will always act to protect the public from malicious or misleading websites.”

As well as taking over ownership of these sites, HMRC said it is also combating other types of scams that target customers, including requesting the removal of over 20,000 malicious websites in the last year.  








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