HMRC data loss used as phishing decoy

Beware if you get an email claiming that you could be in for a tax refund due to the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) scandal of data loss last year.

A phishing attack is currently doing the rounds, security firm McAfee reports. The fake email claims to be from the UK Government, offering a £215 tax refund over the potential exposure of sensitive data, including child benefit recipients, bank and building society details, National Insurance numbers, addresses and child records.

In true phishing style, the email includes a web link to a malicious website, McAfee said. The website, hosted in Germany, has already been taken down.

'No such thing as free money'

"This phishing attack has echoes of traditional get-rich-quick scams, praying on the desire to be compensated for the Government losing their data, but people must learn that there really is no such thing as free money," said Greg Day, a security analyst at McAfee.

So, following the HMRC scandal, are people becoming more careful about who they give their personal details out to? Greg Day thinks so: "Recent high profile data loss incidents have left the public more vigilant about handing over information that has any link to HMRC, so this may not be the most thoroughly considered phishing attack.”

The HMRC slip-up was announced last November, and included the loss of some 25 million records of child benefit recipients.