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HMRC takes down 20,000 malicious websites in a year


Department also claims 90% reduction in phishing texts due to new technology

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has said it has removed more than 20,000 malicious websites during the past year.

Its new figures show it requested a record 20,750 malicious sites to be taken down over the past 12 months, an increase of 29% on the previous year.

The department said the most common type of scam has been the ‘tax refund’ email and SMS, and emphasised that it does not offer refunds by these channels.

It has also been trialing new technology which identifies phishing texts with tags that suggest they are from HMRC and stops them from being delivered. Since the pilot began, in April 2017, there has been a 90% reduction in people reporting spoof HMRC-related texts.

Advances have been made in other areas, with the department having blocked half a billion phishing emails since it implemented the DMARC (Domain based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) verification system in November 2016.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride said: “The criminals behind these scams prey on the public and abuse their trust in government. We’re determined to stop them.

“HMRC is cracking down harder than ever, as these latest figures show. But we need the public’s help as well. By doing the right thing and reporting suspicious messages you will not only protect yourself, you will protect other potential victims.”

Despite the removal of so many malicious sites, HMRC warned the public to stay alert as millions of taxpayers remain at risk of losing substantial amounts of money to online crooks.

Image by Paul Clarke,



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