MUMBAI: It is the season to file income-tax returns, and phishing fraudsters are using that to lure victims. Taxpayers are receiving emails from addresses remarkably similar to the original government one, asking them to provide their netbanking details to “receive their refund amount”.
The sender’s address in the current fraud appears as firstname.lastname@example.org and not email@example.com — the ‘e’ is missing from ‘efiling’ and ‘filing’ is spelt as ‘filling’.
“We issue standard alerts on our website as well as by text messages cautioning taxpayers about online fraud. It is best not to respond to suspicious mails and never share your bank account or credit card details because we do not solicit them,” an I-T spokesman told TOI on Wednesday.
The I-T website did not show any alert, but chartered accountants and tax return preparers (TRPs) circulated a cautionary note on WhatsApp: “An important announcement for all of those who have filed their returns and have received an e-mail stating that there has been an error in calculating tax and a refund has to be issued — please ignore it. It is circulated by hackers. Once you click on the link, it will direct you to a netbanking login page and once you log into it, your bank account will be hacked. The income tax department will send an intimation about refunds payable through a proper notice.”
Sushma Bandelkar, a TRP in Mumbai, said: “Such frauds will increase as the July 31 deadline to file returns approaches. Taxpayers must not share any personal information with any caller who claims to represent the I-T department, or email any details. If a refund is due, you will receive a formal notice from I-T. Do not give your bank details, login name or user ID, credit card and debit card details or PIN number to any individual or website.”
Bandelkar said phishing frauds using I-T returns as the hook have taken place often in the past. “If there are any changes, a rectification form must be filed before you can receive your refund. All CAs and TRPs provide the assessee’s bank account number and IFSC code as part of the returns filing process. So, the department does not solicit these from individual taxpayers again. Any refund due will come to you through NEFT. It is best to ignore such emails,” she said.