We are fast approaching the deadline for filing self-assessment tax returns in the UK for 2018-19. As readers will be aware, this deadline is 31 January 2020.
Unfortunately, this coincides with a pick-up in scamming activity by fraudsters pretending to be the tax office. HMRC have recently posted an alert for taxpayers and this is reproduced below.
Over 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.
Some of the most common techniques fraudsters use include phoning taxpayers offering a fake tax refund or pretending to be HMRC by texting or emailing a link which will take customers to a false page where their bank details and money will be stolen. Fraudsters are also known to threaten victims with arrest or imprisonment if a bogus tax bill is not paid immediately.
HMRC operates a dedicated Customer Protection team to identify and close down scams but is advising customers to recognise the signs to avoid becoming victims themselves. Genuine organisations like HMRC and banks will never contact customers asking for their PIN, password or bank details. Customers 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.
Taxpayers are urged to act by forwarding details of suspicious calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC to firstname.lastname@example.org and texts to 60599. Individuals who have suffered financial loss should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or use their online fraud reporting tool.
As readers will note, it is highly unlikely that HMRC will contact taxpayers using text, email or the telephone. Certainly, HMRC staff should never ask for your personal details or bank information in this way.
If you are contacted, and are unsure if the message is genuine, you should call HMRC using one of their contact numbers listed on the gov.uk website. If you are one of our clients please call your point of contact at the practice and we will check out if the communication you have received is genuine and the action you should take.