HMRC phishing scams go through the roof

Reports of HMRC-branded phishing scams have jumped from 572,029 to 1,069,522 in the past year – a surge of 87 per cent, according to official figures.

The data, obtained by accountancy group Lanop Outsourcing under the Freedom of Information Act, analysed data over the three most recent financial years.

They show that reports of suspected SMS scams shot up 52 per cent on last year, rising from 67,497 to 102,562 attacks. Email scams exploded 109 per cent, rising from 301,170 to 630,193, and reports of phone call scams increased 66 per cent, from 203,362 to 336,767.

Of the scams listed, most were tax rebate or refund scams which rose by 90 per cent from 363,118 and 690,522. In addition, voice scam attacks rose by 66 per cent, jumping from 203,362 to 336,767.

HMRC also receives reports for the DVLA and act on its behalf to initiate website takedowns. In 2019-20 there were 5,549 reports and a whopping 42,233 reports in 2020-21 – an increase of 661 per cent.

Cyber expert Andy Harcup, Senior Director, of Gigamon, said“The sharp rise in HMRC-branded phishing attacks poses huge risks to businesses and individuals, with many organisations lacking the resources to identify and protect against malicious hackers.

All it takes is a single employee to unwittingly hand over confidential passwords and user details and cyber criminals are free to enter and wreak havoc across the network.

The fact is that companies cannot neutralise these attacks without full visibility into network traffic and getting complete visibility into potential hostile threats.

“The days of allowing security blind spots to remain unchecked are over and a getting a complete view of what’s happening and when should now be the new normal in terms of security protocol.”

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