Beware the Self Assessment Scam!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for scammers!
We’re heading closer towards the filing deadline for Self Assessment Tax Returns and the due date for Payments on Account. As a result, many people would be unsurprised to receive an email, text or call from HMRC.
Consequently, it’s a perfect time for fraudsters!
- Nearly 800,000 tax related scams were reports in the last twelve months.
- HMRC has worked with Ofcom to remove more than 1,282 phone numbers that were being used for HMRC-related phone scams.
- 8,561 malicious web pages have been reported for removal.
HMRC has a dedicated team working on cyber and phone crimes. They prevent misleading and malicious communications from ever reaching the taxpayers using innovative technologies.
Since 2017 these controls have blocked 500 million emails!
New controls have prevented 90% of the most convincing SMS messages from reaching their destination and spoofing of most HMRC helpline numbers has been prevented.
Criminals use emails, phone calls and text messages to try and dupe individuals, and often mimic government messages to make them appear authentic. They use bogus website that mimic the genuine article. They want to trick their victims into handing over money or personal or financial information.
What can you do?
HMRC has given the following advice:
- Take a moment to think before parting with your money or information.
- If a phone call, text or email is unexpected, don’t give out private information or reply, and don’t download attachments or click on links before checking on gov.uk that the contact is genuine.
- Do not trust caller ID on phones. Numbers can be spoofed.
- It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests – only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- Search ‘scams’ on gov.uk for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact and how to avoid scams. (The link you’re looking for is here.)
- Report a scam here.
- Forward suspicious texts claiming to be from HMRC to 60599 and emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report tax scam phone calls on gov.uk.
- Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, and report it to Action Fraud (in Scotland, contact the police on 101).
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC 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 also never ring up threatening arrest. Only criminals do that.’
‘Scams come in many forms. Some threaten immediate arrest for tax evasion, others offer a tax rebate. Contacts like these should set alarm bells ringing, so if you are in any doubt whether the email, phone call or text is genuine, you can check the ‘HMRC scams’ advice on gov.uk and find out how to report them to us.’
We make no apologies for coming back to this subject. It’s an ever-growing area of concern and risk, particularly at this time of year.
- HMRC will never contact taxpayers by email or text to discuss a tax refund. If you are a client of ours, we will have registered with them as your agent, and they will come to us before they come to you. If you receive ANY notification that requires a response, refer it directly to us.
- Have a look at the example phishing emails, calls and texts that HMRC have published here so you know what to look for in any that you receive.
- If you want to get some reassurance without referring to us, you can check some features of any call, email or letter you’ve received to gain some confidence in whether it’s genuine by referring to this HMRC guidance page.
If you receive a recorded message to your mobile, warning that you face legal action if you don’t ‘press 1 now’ to speak to an HMRC agent, it’s entirely normal to feel a rush of concern.
We know, because we’ve had a few of these now!
Remember that HMRC will NOT make first contact with you about an overdue amount, or refund, by phone or by recorded message. You would have received numerous letters before they get to this point, and you won’t be caught unawares!
If you’re unsure about any communication from HMRC, please get in touch. We’re very happy to look over anything that you receive rather than hear later that you’ve given away sensitive information. Even if the approach from HMRC is genuine, it’s often much better for us to deal with them for you; we can often restrict their interest to one key area, or use our experience to answer fully, but without risk!
If you’re a client of ours, we don’t charge you any extra to deal with HMRC on your behalf. We automatically include all clients in our fee protection schemes which covers these costs, so you can feel comfortable in doing exactly this!