Tips on avoiding tax scams
AS THE FESTIVE SEASON draws nearer, HMRC is warning millions of Self Assessment customers to be aware of fraudsters in the run up to the 31 January tax deadline. Cyber criminals are taking advantage of “reminder” SMS messages and bogus emails during the festive season to trick taxpayers out of their money.
Just in the last year, HMRC received nearly 900,000 reports from the public about suspicious HMRC contact – phone calls, texts or emails. More than 100,000 of these were phone scams, while over 620,000 reports from the public were about bogus tax rebates.
At Shipleys Tax we look at some of the most common techniques fraudsters use to entrap taxpayers and what you should do if you suspect foul play.
Probably the most common methods we come across that fraudsters use includes:
- Phoning taxpayers offering them a fake tax refund
- Leaving a voicemail message threatening enforcement action or imprisonment if a bogus tax bill is not paid immediately
- Pretending to be HMRC by texting
- Emailing a link which will take customers to a false page, where their bank details and money will be stolen.
Taxpayers need to recognise the signs to avoid becoming victims themselves. HMRC, like other genuine organisations and banks, will never contact customers asking for their PIN, password or bank details. HMRC also do not email taxpayers direct.
Needless to say, but taxpayers should never give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in texts or emails which they are not expecting, even if it looks like a message from HMRC complete with logo and branding.
What should you do if you suspect a scam?
- Number one rule: do not respond. Always check with your professional adviser (or HMRC direct) regarding the status of your tax affairs.
- HMRC operates an inbox for people to report suspicious emails to, at firstname.lastname@example.org, while SMS messages should be forwarded to 60599.
- If you have suffered financial contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
As always, if in doubt check and check again before taking any action.
If you are affected by any of the issues above and would like more information, please call 0114 272 4984 or email email@example.com.
Please note that we do not give free advice by email or telephone.