Amidst rising tax-related fraudulent activities and scams, HMRC warns self-assessment customers about rising scamming activities. The criminal elements take advantage of approaching deadlines to force self-assessment customers into sharing their financial and personal details. 

To spread awareness in this regard, HMRC has forwarded hundreds of thousands of text messages and electronic mails to alert taxpayers about the threat posed by scammers. 

You must note that the deadline for filing self-assessment returns online is 31 January 2021. 

How fraudsters scam self-assessment customers in the UK?

The guidelines issued by HMRC states that scammers are using emails, texts, and calls for connecting with customers. 

Usually, scammers approach self-assessment customers via emails, calls, and text messages to tell them about a “fake tax refund or tax rebate” they are due. The impersonator then convinces self-assessment customers to hand them over their professional and financial information [like bank account details, credit card, or debit card numbers] for claiming a tax rebate. 

Once you give this information to the imposters, they use your financial information for paying fake tax bills or sell your details to other culprits. 

In 1 year only, HMRC has asked internet companies and search engines to remove as many as 15,500 malicious web pages involved in scamming activities. Likewise, the revenue-collection body responded to over 846,000 public queries about suspicious HMRC contacts. Almost 500,000 of the referrals from the public offered bogus tax rebates.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

We know that criminals take advantage of the Self Assessment deadline to panic customers into sharing their personal or financial details and even paying bogus ‘tax due’.

If someone calls, emails, or texts claiming to be from HMRC, offering financial help, or asking for money, it might be a scam. Please take a moment to think before parting with any private information or money.”

How can you report suspicious activities to HMRC?

If you think that any scammer has approached you or you sense any such activity, you can report it to HMRC by dropping an email at [email protected] to via sending a text on 60599. 

You can also inform authorities of such scamming activity online on www.gov.uk

Besides not sharing your financial details with the imposter, it is very important that you also inform HMRC about the source that the imposter has used to contact you. This source can be a telephone number, and email id, or the number through which you have received a text. The information that you provide to HMRC plays an important role in curbing phishing and scamming activities. 

How to remain vigilant in the wake of fraudulent activities?

Do not provide any sort of information if someone contacts you out of the blue impersonating disguise as an HMRC employee and continuously pushes or nudges you to share your financial details for a tax rebate or a tax refund.

Likewise, never click on links sent to you by unexpected and unknown Email IDs or text messages. 

Please note that HMRC will only call or send an electronic mail on the phone number or email id that you have provided to them. So, if you receive a call on your phone number or at email ID that is not registered with the HMRC, it is highly likely that a scammer has contacted you.  

If the scammer succeeds in getting your financial information, contact your bank as soon as possible and also report it to the “Action Fraud” either via call or online. 

Read Also: How to Pay Your Self-Assessment Tax Bill

Also, HMRC regularly uses different means to warn people of the websites disguising as some sort of government agency and charging fees for government services. You should note that all connection sites of government are either free or they charge at domestic call rates. 

Another way of depriving self-assessment customers of their hard-earned money is to charge them for “tax refund or tax rebate” services. The reliable and absolutely free method of claiming a tax refund is by logging into your Personal Tax Account. Or you can ask your tax adviser to do it on your behalf. 

HMRC has also set up a dedicated Protection Cell whose job is to trace phishing websites and to take them down from the internet. The Protection Team also tells self-assessment customers and the public about the ways of identifying a scam and avoiding becoming one of the victims. 

How can you identify a tax scam?

It can be a malicious activity aimed at scamming you if:

  • It is unexpected,
  • It claims to offer you a tax refund, tax rebate, or some sort of grant,
  • It requests access to your financial and personal information,
  • Or it asks you to transfer funds or money. 
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