HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) claims that a recently-introduced crack down on cybercrime has already reduced the number of ‘phishing scams’ purporting to be from the Revenue by 300 million.
The news comes shortly after the tax authority announced that it would be the first Government department to introduce and develop digital systems geared at tackling the growing problem of fraudulent emails which attempt to trick unsuspecting victims into handing over sensitive information.
Reports from last year suggest that as many as 500 million opportunist ‘phishing emails’ were sent to taxpayers during 2014/15.
According to reports, HMRC’s new security process is able to determine which email servers are allowed to send emails on behalf of the Revenue.
Each email is subject to a series of checks and – if it passes – the system will deem it ‘safe’ to be delivered. If it fails, the system will deem it ‘fraudulent’ and the message will not be delivered.
HMRC’s head of cyber security, Ed Tucker, said: “By introducing a new level of security, we’ve been able to tackle [cyber] threats head-on and almost all attempts to scam taxpayers by pretending to be from an HMRC email address will now fall flat.
“Phishing emails are a major focus for our cyber security team. They’re more than just unwanted messages; they are a means by which criminals look to exploit members of the public and gain access to their personal and financial data.
“This in turn can lead to fraud and identity theft,” he warned.