Department claims to have prevented more than one million visits to misleading sites so far this year
So far this year HM Revenue and Customs has assumed control of 75 “scam” websites, meaning more than a million visits to them have been prevented.
The department has identified various sites that point people towards premium-rate phone numbers which customers can call to be connected to HMRC, or charge them to pass on information that citizens could provide for free on GOV.UK. Since January, the department’s cybersecurity unit has challenged the ownership of 75 such sites, and taken them over.
Users attempting to access them will now be automatically redirected to HMRC’s own site, where they can find Freephone or national-rate numbers on which they can call the department directly, as well as information on how to identify and avoid deceptive sites.
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Alongside the website takeovers, HMRC has also requested the removal of more than 20,000 “malicious websites” over the past 12 months.
As well as taking over ownership of these sites, HMRC is also combating other types of scams that customers are being targeted by. This includes requesting the removal of over 20,000 malicious websites in the last year. Information on how to spot these scams is published on the HMRC website.
Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director for customer services, said: “HMRC takes the abuse of its brand very seriously. Attempts to dupe customers in this way won’t be tolerated and we will always act to protect the public from malicious or misleading websites.”