HMRC-Branded Phishing Attacks Targeting U.K. Users Saw an 87% Increase During COVID

HMRC-Branded Phishing AttacksPhishing scams impersonating the UK’s tax, payments and customs authority related to tax rebates or refunds have soared, according to new data obtained by a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

The U.K.’s HM Revenue & Customs is responsible for “collecting the money that pays for the UK’s public services and help families and individuals with targeted financial support.” I’ve covered HMRC-related scams as they occurred over the last year, but, according to newly-obtained details shared with InfoSecurity Magazine, the extent of the attacks was far greater than reported.

According to the data obtained:

  • Phishing scams impersonating HMRC grew 87% from the previous year
  • The majority of scams (65%) had to do with tax rebates or refunds
  • Voice-based scams increased 66%
  • Email scams grew by 109%
  • SMS-based scams rose by 52%

The premise of these scams is simple; people are in need of assistance and seeing an email impersonating the HMRC about getting some form of financial relief to assist with the halting of life as we know it during COVID. Getting much needed help is all the motivation a potential victim needs to want to follow the directions of well-impersonated email that looks and feels like the real thing.

The very same tactics used to trick victims out of private information, such as passwords and payment details are also used to trick your organization’s users into giving up corporate credentials that provide threat actors with access to data, resources, applications, systems, and networks. Security Awareness Training is the most effective means of stopping phishing-based cyberattacks before they do any damage. Even the HMRC has heavily invested in training over the last two years, seeing the value of elevating their staff’s understanding of how phishing attacks occur, what they look like, and how to avoid falling for scams.

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Topics: Phishing

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