HMRC is warning all households to be vigilant after seeing a rise in the number of phone calls from fraudsters pretending to be them. In the past six months the tax authority has received 60,000 reports of phone scams. This is an increase of 360% on the six months before this.
Ironically, it appears that HMRC’s crackdown on text and email phishing scams has left fraudsters no choice but to try to con taxpayers over the phone, suggested the financial secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride.
He said: “If you receive a suspicious call to your landline from someone purporting to be from HMRC which threatens legal action, to put you in jail, or payment using vouchers: hang-up and report it to HMRC who can work to take them off the network.”
During the last 12 months, HMRC has worked with the phone networks and Ofcom to close nearly 450 lines being used by fraudsters using boiler room tactics to steal money.
The tax authority will only ever call you asking for payment on a debt that you are already aware of, either having received a letter about it, or after you have told them you owe some tax, for example through a self-assessment return.