HMRC is warning self assessment taxpayers completing their returns to take care to avoid being caught out by scammers.
As the department issues thousands of SMS messages and emails as part of its annual Self Assessment tax return push, customers have been told to be alert of the danger of scammers posing as the tax authority in the lead up to the tax return deadline on 31 January 2021.
In the last year alone, 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 offered bogus tax rebates.
HMRC has also worked with the telecoms industry and Ofcom to remove more than 3,387 phone numbers being used to perpetrate HMRC-related phone scams in the past 12 months.
Ways to spot a scam:
Scams often target customers to inform them they are due a ‘tax rebate’ or ‘refund’. Scams could:
- be unexpected
- ask for personal or financial details e.g. bank details
- use threatening language or try to convince you to transfer money.
This information is used to access customers’ bank accounts, trick into paying fictitious bills or is sold on 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.”
HMRC is also warning the public to be aware of websites that charge for government services that are in fact free or charged at local call rates (such as call connection sites). One way to safely claim a tax refund for free is to log into your Personal Tax Account.
Further help and support is available on GOV.UK. Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, and report it to Action Fraud. You can report suspicious activity to HMRC at email@example.com and texts to 60599.
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