One of the frequent subjects in a phishing attempt is Tax returns or tax refunds , where especially in UK, you need to submit your Tax Return online. The phishers have caught on to the fact that in UK all government services are now dealt with by a common gateway and you need to register for a Government Gateway account.
This one wants your personal details and your credit card and bank details. Many of them are also designed to specifically steal your email, facebook and other social network log in details. All these phishing attempts rely on you not noticing the URL ( web address) in the browser address bar. Now this is much worse in a mobile browser than on desktop. More and more people use mobile phones and tablets for day to day work and don’t / can’t hover the mouse over the link to see it is false. Unfortunately touch screens, although good for many things are a real benefit to the bad guys. The browsers on mobile phones make it much harder to see the address bar, which is at the bottom of the page and obviously much smaller. your eyes are drawn to the top not the bottom.
We all get very blasé about phishing and think we know so much that we will never fall for a phishing attempt. Don’t assume that all attempts are obvious. Watch for any site that invites you to enter ANY personal or financial information. It might be an email that says “you have won a prize” or “sign up to this website for discounts, prizes and special offers”
Please read our How to protect yourselves page for simple, sensible advice on how to avoid being infected by this sort of socially engineered malware.
The original email looks like this, and of course at this time of year ( or anytime of year) we all need a few extra pennies and the offer of a tax refund is always welcome. It will NEVER be a genuine email from HMRC so don’t ever follow the link in the email which leads to a website that looks at first glance like the genuine HMRC / Gov.UK gateway website. Sometimes you will be asked to fill in the html ( webpage) form that comes attached to the email. That also will be false and lead to you losing your account details
From: GOV.UK <email@example.com>
Date: Wed 08/06/2016 05:58
Subject: Automated tax refund notification
Attachment: None ( see link )
After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity,
we determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of 592.76 £.
In order to receive your tax return online,
you need to create a new account on government gateway.
HM Revenue & Customs – GOV.UK
If you follow the link http://americasfootcenter.com/automated.refund.application.online.start.account.for.special.refund/1255bbc5b01e0284db618c7bc75d643c/registration.php?ip=[redacted] you see a webpage asking for name, address, birth date etc. looking like:
Then you are asked for your address and mobile number
Next credit card details
Next is Bank details
Next is a done page, where you are told that it will take 5 to 7 days to deal with and give you the refund. and you are then automatically forwarded to the genuine gov.uk start page
All of these emails use Social engineering tricks to persuade you to open the attachments that come with the email. Whether it is a message saying “look at this picture of me I took last night” and it appears to come from a friend or is more targeted at somebody who regularly is likely to receive PDF attachments or Word .doc attachments or any other common file that you use every day. Or whether it is a straight forward attempt, like this one, to steal your personal, bank, credit card or email and social networking log in details. Be very careful when unzipping them and make sure you have “show known file extensions enabled“, And then look carefully at the unzipped file. If it says .EXE then it is a problem and should not be run or opened.