HMRC Shuts Down Almost 300 #COVID19 Phishing Scam Sites

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Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has formally asked Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to remove 292 scam web addresses exploiting the coronavirus outbreak since March 23, according to official figures.

The Freedom of Internet Act data, obtained by Griffin Law, revealed that of the 292 sites removed, 237 were proactively identified and requested for removal by HMRC independently, with the remaining 55 flagged by members of the public.

The findings highlight the continued attempts of phishing scammers looking to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two weeks ago, it was revealed that a scam email purporting to be from HMRC was in circulation advertising the government’s coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Tim Sadler, CEO, Tessian, said: “During the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve seen opportunistic hackers continually taking advantage of the fact that people will be searching for more information and guidance on how to adjust to the new normal, in attempts to make their phishing scams all the more effective.

“All too often, these email scams are incredibly realistic, purporting to be from trusted organizations or authorities like HMRC, to convince people into complying with requests – whether that’s handing over personal bank account details, phone numbers and passwords."

Sadler added that it is therefore vital that companies and employees are made fully aware of these threats, particularly at a time with high levels of remote working, with many people in isolation and at a much greater risk of being defrauded.

“Key tips to stop scammers include: being careful when sharing any personal information online as well as being wary of unsolicited emails asking for urgent information. It’s also critical to avoid sharing financial details or personal information with unfamiliar websites. If you’re still not sure, call HMRC directly to verify the legitimacy of their message.”

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