HMRC said its actions have averted over a million visits to websites pretending to offer tax guidance and therefore the visitors being potentially ripped off.
The deceptive websites included those which promoted misleading and costly helpline numbers to the HMRC itself.
When someone searched online for HMRC’s phone numbers or digital services they were often directed to other websites. Some of which promoted premium rate, non-HMRC numbers as a means of reaching the tax office.
The phone numbers were in fact call forwarding services which connected callers to HMRC, but at a hefty price, despite the authority’s own 0300 numbers being free or charged at the national landline rate.
In other cases, sites charged for forwarding information to HMRC which can be provided freee through the GOV.UK site.
Too often this was an attempt to mislead customers and gain business at their expense, without making clear the service is not affiliated with HMRC, the tax authority said.
Since January, HMRC’s cyber security team has taken control of over 75 dubious sites by challenging their ownership.
Any members of the public trying to access these sites will now be redirected to HMRC’s GOV.UK pages, which provide genuine contact numbers.
Commenting on the million milestone, HMRC’s director for customer services, Angela MacDonald, 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.”
As well as taking over ownership of the misleading websites, HMRC said it was also combating other types of scams that are targeting its customers.
This has resulted in it 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.