HMRC issues fresh advice on avoiding scams
HMRC is warning members of the public to be careful if they receive an email, call or text people claiming to be from tax authority.
And it is advising people not to reply directly to any suspicious contact, but to inform HMRC straight away (search GOV.UK for ‘HMRC scams’).
A spokesman for the Revenue said: “You can be sure that HMRC won’t ring out of the blue threatening your arrest. But if someone contacts you claiming to be from HMRC, it could be a scam. The department will only ever call asking for payment on a tax or tax credit debt that you already know about, usually through a letter.”
In the last year HMRC:
- received 1,048,396 referrals from the public about suspicious contact, nearly half offering bogus tax ‘rebates’ or ‘refunds’.
- worked with the telecoms industry and Ofcom to remove nearly 2,460 phone numbers being used to commit tax phone scams.
- received 441,954 reports of phone scams in total, 117% up on the previous year.
- reported more than 13,315 malicious web pages for takedown.
- detected 462 Covid-19 financial scams, most by text message.
- asked internet service providers to take down 441 Covid-19 scam web pages.
Many scams mimic government messages to so that they look authentic and reassuring. HMRC is a familiar brand, which criminals abuse to add credibility to their scams.
The Revenue said the main things to look out for are:
- Is the contact unexpected?
- Does it offer a refund, rebate or financial support?
- Does it ask for personal information?
- Is it threatening?
- Does it ask you to transfer money?
HMRC’s advice is to:
- Take a moment to think before parting with your money or information.
- Don’t give out private information or reply to text messages, and don’t download attachments or click on links in texts or emails you weren’t expecting.
- Do not trust caller ID on phones. Numbers can be spoofed.