Scam warning for self-assessment customers
Scammers target thousands of business owners offering bogus tax refunds.
HMRC has warned self-assessment customers to be on their guard after responding to more than 180,000 suspicious contact reports in the year to August 2022.
Of these, nearly 81,000 were scams offering bogus tax rebates.
Criminals claiming to be from HMRC have targeted individuals via email, text and phone with fake tax refunds to threaten them with arrest for tax evasion.
The number of phone scams has increased rapidly since Covid. In April 2020, HMRC received reports of 425 phone scams. In August 2022, it was 5,913.
However, the annual number fell in the 12 months to August 2022, when HMRC responded to 55,386 total phone scam reports, 87% less than the previous year.
HMRC said fraudsters often target customers when they know they are more likely to be in contact with HMRC, which is why self-assessment customers should be extra vigilant as the date approaches limit.
He fears that new customers could be tricked into clicking on fake links or texts and revealing personal or financial information to criminals.
Myrtle Lloyd, Director General of Customer Service at HMRCsaid: “Never get rushed. If someone contacts you saying they are from HMRC, asking you to urgently transfer money or give personal details, be on your guard.
“HMRC will never call to threaten arrest. Only criminals do that.
“Contacts like these should set off alarm bells, so take your time and check out HMRC’s advice on scams.”
Its dedicated Customer Protection team works to identify and stop scams and tackle misleading websites that charge to connect people to HMRC’s freephone helplines.
Since 2017, the department has recovered more than 183 websites hosting low-value services such as call-connect sites, saving the public millions of pounds.
In the year ending August 2022, it flagged 10,565 malicious web pages for takedown and worked with the telecommunications industry and Ofcom to remove 48 phone numbers used to commit phone scams related to HMRC.
The deadline for filing paper tax returns for the 2021 to 2022 tax year is October 31, 2022 and January 31, 2023 for those filing their tax returns online.
Customers filing online do not need to share their login information. Someone using the details could steal from the customer or make a fraudulent claim on their behalf.
Advice on scams is available on gov.uk
Customers can forward suspicious texts claiming to be from HMRC to 60599 and emails to [email protected]
Tax scam phone calls can be reported to HMRC online.