HM Revenue & Customs has reported a staggering 367,520 reports of phishing email attacks during 2020, with data indicating a sharp rise in incidents after the UK went into its first lockdown in March.
This is according to official data obtained by accountancy firm Lanop Outsourcing, under the Freedom of Information (FOI) act, which specifically revealed that HMRC faced an average of 26,100 phishing attacks in January and February 2020, before soaring to an average of 45,046 attacks per month from March to September – a 73 per cent increase.
The lowest recorded number of phishing attacks during March-September 2020, took place in August where just 38,096 attacks were detected by HMRC. However, this figure then soared to 57,801 cases in September – the largest monthly quantity all year.
As well as phishing attacks, HMRC also reported nearly 200,000 (199,621) cases of phone scams and a further 58,921 reports of SMS (text message) scams.
The month which saw the lowest number of phone scams and SMS referrals was April, with just 425 and 2,515 of each respectively. This is likely due to the increasing amount of cybercriminals taking advantage of home workers via email phishing attacks (44,050 phishing scams were recorded in April).
Interestingly, when the UK came out of its first lockdown in June, the quantity of phone and SMS scams began soaring again, with the number of phone scams facing HMRC steadily inclining to a peak of 46,015 in September.