Self assessment taxpayers should be alert to criminals claiming to be from HMRC. As the department issues thousands of SMS messages and emails as part of its annual tax return push, the Revenue is warning customers completing their returns to take care to avoid being caught out by scammers.
HMRC said the fraudsters use calls, emails or texts to contact customers. In the past 12 months, HMRC has responded to more than 846,000 referrals of suspicious HMRC contact from the public and reported over 15,500 malicious web pages to internet service providers to be taken down. Almost 500,000 of the referrals from the public offered bogus tax rebates.
Many scams target customers to inform them of a fake ‘tax rebate’ or ‘tax refund’ they are due. The imposters use language intended to convince them to hand over personal information, including bank details, in order to claim the ‘refund’. Criminals will use this information to access customers’ bank accounts, trick them into paying fictitious tax bills, or sell on their personal information to other criminals.
HMRC’s Interim Director General for Customer Services, Karl Khan, said: “We know that criminals take advantage of the Self Assessment deadline to panic customers into sharing their personal or financial details and even paying bogus ‘tax due’.
“If someone calls, emails or texts claiming to be from HMRC, offering financial help or asking for money, it might be a scam. Please take a moment to think before parting with any private information or money.”
Those with concerns can report suspicious activity to HMRC at email@example.com and texts to 60599. They can also report phone scams online on GOV.UK.