Self-assessment customers who are starting to think about their annual tax returns for the 2021 to 2022 tax year are being warned to guard against fraudsters.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is warning people to lookout for scammers after responding to more than 180,000 referrals of suspicious contact in the 12 months to August 2022. Of those, almost 81,000 were scams offering fake tax rebates, the department said.
Criminals claiming to be from HMRC have targeted individuals by email, text and phone with their communications ranging from offering bogus tax rebates to threatening arrest for tax evasion, HMRC said. Contacts like these should sound alarm bells.
Fraudsters target customers when they know they are more likely to be in contact with HMRC, the department said, which is why Self Assessment customers should be extra vigilant to this activity.
There is a risk they could be taken in by scam texts, emails or calls either offering a ‘refund’ or demanding unpaid tax, thinking that they are genuine HMRC communications referring to their Self Assessment return.
Customers who have not done a return previously might be tricked into clicking on links in these emails or texts and revealing personal or financial information to criminals.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said: “Never let yourself be rushed. If someone contacts you saying they’re from HMRC, wanting you to urgently transfer money or give personal information, be on your guard. HMRC will never ring up threatening arrest. Only criminals do that.”
Anyone contacted by someone claiming to be from HMRC in a way that arouses suspicion is advised to take their time and check the advice on gov.uk. Customers can report any suspicious activity to HMRC by forwarding suspicious texts claiming to be from HMRC to 60599 and emails to email@example.com.
Any tax scam phone calls can be reported to HMRC using the online form on gov.uk.