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HMRC scam voicemails: how to spot this new tax scam

Which? has obtained two scam voicemails of fraudsters purporting to be from the HMRC. We explain how the scam works, so you can spot it.

Which? has obtained two recordings of scam voicemails of fraudsters pretending to be from the HMRC.

The fraudsters threaten potential victims with warrants for their arrest or legal action.

Watch the video to know what a scam voicemail sounds like so you don’t get caught out. This is what a scam call sounds like.

Read our free how to avoid a tax scam guide for more tips on spotting tax scams.

Scam voicemail: warrant to arrest

In one recording, an automated male voice warns there’s a warrant for your arrest because there’s a legal case to be filed in your name.

It says because you’ve now been notified, you then have to call the HMRC on a number provided.

The voice signs off with: ‘Don’t ignore.’

Being pressured into acting quickly is one of the signs of a scam – this is to stop you thinking through your actions.

Policeman visiting a house after a burglary

Scam voicemail: officer Sarah Wilson

In the other scam voicemail, this time it’s a female automated voice purporting to be Officer Sarah Wilson from HM Revenue & Customs.

She urges you or your solicitor to call her back on a provided number.

The message threatens that if you or your solicitor doesn’t call them back, ‘then get ready to face the legal consequences’.

This is another tactic to make you act quickly – this time to pressure you into responding out of fear of severe consequences.

Read more: 1 in 3 people sent fraudulent texts and most of them were from scammers posing as the HMRC

What to do if you get a scam voicemail

If you get a voicemail or message out of the blue which worries you, make sure you do all you can to verify the identity of the caller and don’t give out any personal information.

If you feel uncomfortable or you’re sure it’s a scam, hang up. Always independently look for the number of the organisation apparently trying to contact you.

You can do this by searching for their official website or using the number on a trusted piece of correspondence – such as a letter or bank statement you’ve been sent.

Call the company from a different phone 10 minutes later and ask about the message and see if it was genuine.

For more tips on what to do if you’re contacted out of the blue, read our free how to spot a scam guide.

Report the scam

If it turns out it was a scam, you should report it so no one else falls victim to it and it can be investigated.

You can forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and texts to 60599.

Or you can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use their online fraud reporting tool.

We have more information on our Consumer Rights site about how to report a scam.

The HMRC will always use your tax code in a call

An HMRC spokesperson said: ‘Phone scams are widely reported, and generally attempt to target elderly and vulnerable people.

‘They often involve people receiving a call out of the blue and being told that HMRC is investigating them. If you can’t verify the identity of the caller, we recommend that you do not speak to them.

‘HMRC will call people about outstanding tax bills, and sometimes use automated messages, however it would include your taxpayer reference number.

‘If you are uncertain of the caller hang up and call HMRC directly to check – you can confirm our call centre numbers on www.gov.uk if you are unsure.

‘For tax credits we do not include your details in any voicemail messages.’

How to avoid a tax scam

Tax scams can happen at any time but are most common around key deadlines, such as when your tax return is due.

As well as phone calls and voicemail, scammers also send emails, texts and even letters trying to trick people into handing over their money or personal details.

They usually take the form of ‘you’re owed a tax rebate’ or ‘you’re in trouble with the HMRC’.

We have more information about how to avoid a tax scam in our free guide.

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