Reported HMRC-Branded Phishing Scams Grew by 87% During COVID-19
Official figures obtained by accountancy group Lanop Outsourcing reveal that HMRC-branded phishing scams grew by 87% during the Covid-19 pandemic. The company gained access to the information after filing a Freedom of Information request. The data revealed that reports of phishing scams impersonating the UK’s tax, payments, and customs authority surged from 572,00 in the financial year 2019-2020 to over one million in the 2020-2021 financial year. The majority of scams related to tax rebates and refunds, leveraging the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. The increase is likely tied to cybercriminals seeking to exploit the creation of a number of financial relief packages introduced by the UK government during this time.
The UK also witnessed a substantial rise in suspected voice scam attacks, with 203,362 reports in 2019-2020 and 690,522 in FY 2020-21. According to Lanop Outsourcing, email was the most commonly used vector to launch the HMRC-branded phishing attacks during this period. These rose by 109% year on year. Scams impersonating the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) also increased by 661%.