taxesA warning has been issued to people claiming tax credits about online scammers attempting to steal credit card details, money and sensitive information that can be passed onto criminal gangs.

HM Revenue and Customs, which is currently urging people to renew their tax credits to avoid payments being stopped, said phishing emails and fake websites were still posing a threat, despite the department’s best efforts to shut them down.

Nearly 22,000 phishing emails were reported to HMRC during the tax credits renewal period last year.

More than 147 scam websites had been shut down during the period, but more continue to be created.

Phishing emails which often promise money back were said to take people to a fake replica of the HMRC website. Claimants are then asked to provide credit or debit card details or other sensitive information such as passwords and the fraudsters then attempt to steal money from accounts.

Identity theft was also said to be an issue if personal details were sold to criminal gangs.

Nick Lodge, director general of benefits and credits, said: “HMRC will never ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email.

“We are committed to your online security but the methods fraudsters use to obtain information are constantly changing, so you need to be alert. Anyone who receives this type of email should send it to [email protected] .”