Self-assessment taxpayers must look out for self-assessment tax scams before the deadline on January 31st 2022. HMRC‘s tax scam warning urges those contacted to check for fraudulent communications.
More than four million text messages and emails have been sent out by HMRC to taxpayers who have not filed their 2020-21 tax return. Unfortunately, ruthless fraudsters are poised to take advantage of this.
Over the past 12 months, HMRC says it has responded to 797,010 referrals of suspicious contact, including 360,000 offers of fake tax rebates. Scammers will commonly text or email people to say they’re owed a tax rebate from HMRC. This will often include a link that asks the person to fill out their personal details in order to claim it.
Phone scams are on the rise, too. The past year has seen a 21% rise on the previous 12 months, with HMRC receiving more than 327,000 reports of suspicious phone calls. Malicious web pages are another issue, over the same period, HMRC reported 8,561 malicious pages to be taken down, including copycat sites.
At HMRC a dedicated team are constantly working to shut down scams, but new ones are appearing all the time. It’s important to stay vigilant and follow these top tips from consumer champions Which?
Were you expecting to be contacted?
If you’re due to submit a tax return, you’ll probably expect a reminder from HMRC at some point. But if the contact you’ve had is unexpected, it’s worth looking into whether it’s really HMRC that’s contacting you.
Are you being rushed?
Received a phone call or other communication asking you to make an urgent money transfer or provide personal information? If so, be on your guard.
Have you double-checked the website or email address?
One of the most effective ways of checking whether you’re being scammed is scrutinising the website you’ve been sent to. You should also check the email address you’ve been contacted by. Some of the most sophisticated scams have official-looking details, but the vast majority don’t.
Does it seem too good to be true?
Receiving news of a tax rebate you weren’t expecting can be exciting! However, before you go any further with the process of claiming it, ask yourself if it’s likely to be real.
Always check your personal tax account online if you’re unsure about whether someone contacting you is genuinely from HMRC. If that’s not clear, you can call HMRC directly.
If you’ve received any communication that you think might be a scam, report it as quickly as possible so it can be investigated.
Suspicious phone calls can be reported using HMRC’s online form, phishing emails can be forwarded to email@example.com and scam texts sent to 60599.
If you have been unfortunate to have been scammed, read our blog on how your bank can help you, here.