Scams, phishing, trolls. All language of the internet and all reminders of how it might have provided us with more opportunities but it’s also increased the threats.  Scams have always existed but never in as much abundance. The ways they think of confusing, beguiling and defrauding us are legion. Approaches taken vary from frightening us, ‘your account will be closed if…’ to delighting us, ‘you have won…’

We might tut and shake our heads at the gullibility of those who did click here, but it’s easily done. In hindsight the spelling errors, lack  of official language and dubious wording might seem obvious but at the time these scams play upon our emotions and worries in such a way that we don’t always see them clearly for what they are.

For example, would you recognise a scam masquerading under the heading of the Tax Office?  We have become aware recently of people receiving e-mails from HMRC and Agencia Tributaria (the Spanish Tax Authority). They begin with the enticing statement, ‘You are eligible to receive a tax refund of…’ and of course then go on to ask for bank account details for the money to be refunded.

Beware! Be assured that you won’t be contacted in this way if a refund is due.  There can be refunds for over payment of resident taxes, but it doesn’t happen by e-mail.

On completion of your annual tax declaration you will be informed by your tax adviser of whether you owe money or if money is due to you. If you’re lucky enough to have a rebate it will be paid automatically into your bank account as your bank account details are on the tax declaration you complete. You will receive your rebate in your account by the 31st December. No need to inform anyone of anything by e-mail.

So, the moral of this tale? Don’t let down your guard when answering your e-mails. If they ask for any financial details they’re almost certainly not genuine. Sometimes it is good news but don’t let the prospect of a payout put your security at risk.