Scammers on the rise

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is warning taxpayers to prepare for a surge in activity by fraudsters in the run up to the January 31 self-assessment deadline.

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 more than 620,000 reports from the public were about bogus tax rebates.

Some of the most common techniques used by the fraudsters 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.

It is a problem that is not going to go away. Gareth Shaw, head of money at the consumer group ‘Which?’ says: “The number of people targeted by HMRC scams is staggering and the problem is only likely to get worse as the self-assessment deadline looms.

“Sophisticated tactics like number spoofing see innocent people losing life-changing sums everyday.”

HMRC operates a dedicated customer protection team to identify and close down scams but is advising taxpayers 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.

And people 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.

WNJ can help ease the stress that the self-assessment process can bring. To discuss how we can help you please contact me on 01772 430000.