In the last year, HM Revenue & Customs has received nearly 900,000 reports from the public about suspicious phone calls, texts or emails that they have received, purportedly coming from HMRC. Over 100,000 of these were phone scams, and more than 620,000 reports from the public related to contact they had received about bogus tax rebates.
HMRC is warning customers to be aware of this spate of attempted fraud relating to the income tax self-assessment system, particularly with the 31st January deadline looming.
Typically, fraudsters call taxpayers offering a bogus tax refund, or pretend to be HMRC by texting or emailing a link which takes customers to a false page, where their bank details and money can be stolen. Another technique is for fraudsters to threaten taxpayers with arrest or imprisonment if a fake tax bill is not paid immediately – this is designed to create anxiety and put pressure on victims, to lead them to give away their bank details.
HMRC is urging customers to look out for the signs of fraud to avoid falling prey to these scams. Their advice is never to give out your private information, reply to text messages from unknown numbers, download attachments or click on links in texts or emails which you were not expecting. Genuine organisations will never contact customers to ask for their PIN, passwords or bank details.