Fraudsters are sending fake emails and SMS messages promising tax rebates in order to trick people into disclosing their bank account and personal details, or send them money.
Tax authority HMRC is currently processing tax refunds after the end of the 2017 to 2018 tax year, and criminals are taking advantage of it.
In March 2018 alone, HMRC received 84,549 phishing reports and requested 2,672 phishing websites be taken down.
Read on to find out how you can avoid this latest tax scam, and visit our guide eight scams to watch out for in 2018 to make sure you’re safe.
How to spot an HMRC tax scam
HMRC will never ask you for your payment or personal details by email, text message or over the phone, so don’t hand over any personal information, including bank details, if you’ve received a text or an email that looks like it’s from HMRC.
Many of the fraudulent communications also include links that take the you to dubious websites where your information can be stolen.
Treasury Minister Mel Stride MP, the financial secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘HMRC only informs you about tax refunds through the post or through your pay via your employer.
‘All emails, text messages, or voicemail messages saying you have a tax refund are a scam.
‘Do not click on any links in these messages, and forward them to HMRC’s phishing email address and phone number.’
Report any tax scam attempts to HMRC directly. Send phishing emails to email@example.com and smishing texts to 60599. You can also contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use Action Fraud’s online fraud reporting tool.
How to know if it’s genuine contact from HMRC
Anyone owed a genuine tax rebate for Income Tax between 6 April 2017 to 5 April 2018 will receive a tax calculation letter by post between June and October.
If you haven’t paid the right amount at the end of the tax year, HMRC will post you a tax calculation. This can be a P800 or a Simple Assessment letter.
- If you have paid too much tax, the letter will explain how you can get your refund paid to you.
- If you have not paid enough tax, the letter will tell you how much you owe and how you can pay.
Scammers frequently spoof HMRC
HMRC is the most spoofed government department according to the National Cyber Security Centre.
Tax scam phishing emails and ‘smishing’ text messages purporting to be from HM Revenue & Customs can happen at any time, but are most common around key online and paper tax deadlines.
Scammers use events, such as the end of the financial year, the self-assessment deadline, and the issuing of tax refunds, to target the public and get them to reveal their personal data.
This kind of phishing is expected to continue over the coming months as genuine tax refunds are issued.
We have free information about how to identify tax scams and what to do if you’ve been scammed.
Safeguard us from scams
Fraud is now at record levels, with more than five million scams costing Britons a mind-boggling £9bn each year.
And while there are sensible steps we can all take to protect ourselves, an unfair burden has been placed on the public.
We’re calling on the government, regulators and businesses to do more to safeguard us all from scams. Help us to make a difference by signing our scams safeguarding petition.