HMRC say tax phone scams have increased by 21%
A new HMRC update says that tax phone scams have increased 21 percent on last year, with nearly 800,000 tax-related scams reported in total.
A whopping 360,000 of those have been fake tax rebates, approximately.
As we draw closer to the Self-Assessment deadline on January 31, 2022, HMRC is warning that the self-employed should be on their guard.
Here are some things to watch out for – and how to protect yourself.
As the self-employed get ready to send their tax return this time of year, HMRC starts to send out emails and texts to taxpayers to offer them guidance and support.
HMRC says that more than four million messages were sent out about Self-Assessment during the week of 15-21 November.
But as communication from HMRC increases, so does the potential for people to believe that malicious contact is genuine.
Scammers will pretend to be from HMRC or another government body to trick the self-employed into handing over money, or their personal and financial details.
They might promise a tax-rebate or threaten arrest for tax evasion.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said the key is not to rush: “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.”
How do I work out whether HMRC contact is genuine?
HMRC has a list of reasons it will contact you and the methods it will use to reach you.
You can report suspicious messages by:
- using this form at gov.uk
- forwarding suspicious HMRC emails to email@example.com
- forwarding suspicious HMRC texts to 60599
HMRC says that it has a dedicated team working on cyber and phone crimes. But the most important step is prevention.
How to avoid HMRC scams during Self-Assessment
HMRC says that during Self-Assessment, you should double check forms and websites before using them to do your tax return. You can find genuine forms at gov.uk. One way to check websites is to see whether the URL looks genuine and secure.
The tax body has also issued stop, challenge and protect guidance to the public:
- Don’t feel rushed to part with your money, or your personal and financial details
- If you’re not expecting contact, don’t click on links or give out private information
- Caller ID on phones can be spoofed, so don’t automatically trust this.
- You should ignore or refuse requests if you’re suspicious, as only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- Check HMRC contact details and also use gov.uk to keep up-to-date.
- If you’re not sure, refuse contact and speak to HMRC directly.
- Report suspicious messages to HMRC to help protect others from falling for the scam.
- If you’ve given money or details away, get in touch with your bank straight away and report it to Action Fraud (in Scotland, contact the police on 101).
If you are in any doubt, we will be happy to assist you in whether a request, call or email is genuine.
Please remember, that in a bid to help everyone get their Self-Assessment in on time before the January 31, 2022 deadline, The Hollies is adding an increasing fee to client bills as the deadline draws closer.
This is to try and guarantee that we help everyone in a timely fashion 🙂