An urgent warning has been issued that people are being targeted by scammers impersonating His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. The Express reported that HMRC has had over 130,000 scam reports this year with fraudsters using ploys such as fake tax rebate opportunities to lure people in.
And the government department was in the headlines this week when it issued a 100-day warning was issued to millions of taxpayers saying anybody who does Self Assessment, where they file their tax return and pay their tax bill themselves, has until January 31, 2024, to do so for the tax year 2022/23.
But in an email to self assessed taxpayers, HMRC reminded people that tax returns for that year can be completed now. Doing so, it said, meant knowing how much tax is owed – and anyone due a refund would get it sooner.
However one expert said that although the HMRC does send emails to people direct, there are a lot of scams currently arriving in people’s inboxes. Paul Cooper, head of Technology Delivery at takepayments, said: “Multiple scam texts, emails and phishing calls have been doing the rounds recently, claiming to be from HMRC.
“The fake messages claim the respondent either owes money, is owed a refund from HMRC or needs to update their details to avoid being accused of tax evasion.
“The messages invite you to click a link with the aim of extracting personal information to steal money.” The group said a fifth of Britons had been targeted by scammers impersonating a trusted organisation such as HMRC this year.
Here are some of the signs of a fake message to look out for:
Unsolicited messages regarding refunds
Spelling and grammar mistakes in the text
If the message is from a suspicious number
Background noise that sounds artificial on calls.
Takepayments also provided some tips about what consumers can do to avoid being taken in by a scam. These include never sending money via a bank transfer to an unknown source, such as through a peer-to-peer app like PayPal.
Britons are also advised never share personal details or information, as HMRC would never request this information over text or email.
The experts at takepayments said: “Links included in these messages are likely to lead to fraudulent websites. Unsecured payment gateways do not ask for four-digit card PINs or online banking information, including passwords.”
You can also report and get advice about fraud or cyber crime by calling Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040