Freelancers, contractors and small businesses have had their mail addresses, phone numbers, P60s, National Insurance numbers and passports leaked online. This comes after a ransomware attack on at least five financial companies, according to accountancy firm Gorilla. As a result, thousands of people are experiencing difficulties with their online accounts and are unable to complete and submit their self-assessment tax forms before the deadline.
Recently, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) pushed back the deadline to accommodate more taxpayers, which was just extended to February 28, 2022.
Dustin Gorski, 35, is a freelance software engineer from south west London who was a client of one of the firms which was targeted by the cyber attack.
The freelancer has used the firm to prepare his end-of-year accounts and VAT statements, but since this incident has switched to another firm to do his books.
Mr Goriski explained: “There was no mention of a cyber security incident at all making customers aware that their data might have been compromised.
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“I was hugely frustrated, because very quickly customers like myself learned from Twitter and other online forums that the entire group which oversees the firm I was with has been hit by a ransomware attack.”
He added: “From what I can tell the attackers who hacked the accountancy firms have already released parts of the stolen customer data to the dark web.
“This was confirmed on multiple online forums and it doesn’t take much effort to find it.”
Despite the seriousness of the data breach, Mr Goriski had not received any initial correspondence from his old accountancy form informing him of the cyber attack once it happened.
Daniel Fallows, director at accountancy firm Gorilla, said: “So far we’ve been contacted by hundreds of affected contractors and SMEs who are concerned about being able to submit their HMRC self-assessment in time for the extended deadline later this month.
“We would advise any contractors or businesses affected by this issue to contact a qualified accountant as soon as possible so that there is enough time for them to submit a self-assessment return before the end of February.
“This ransomware attack is a major concern for freelancers, SMEs and the accounting sector as a whole.
“Our sympathies lie with the firms targeted in these attacks and the thousands of SMEs, freelancers and contractors affected by this issue.”
Express.co.uk has reached out to HMRC for comment.