With the 31 January self-assessment tax return deadline fast approaching, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has reported that scams from fraudsters claiming to be HMRC are on the increase in both numbers and sophistication.
In the last twelve months HMRC has received almost 846,00 reports from taxpayers of cyber-criminal activity via telephone, email and text messages where scammers panic customers into sharing their personal and financial details.
Taxpayers are therefore being reminded to continue to be vigilant, with HMRC saying that it could be a scam if:
– it is unexpected
– it offers a refund, tax rebate or grant and asks for bank or credit card details in order to receive funds
– it asks for personal information like bank details
– it is threatening with an imminent arrest or imprisonment if a fake tax bill is not paid immediately
– it tells you to transfer money
HMRC has also reported more than 15,500 malicious web pages to internet service providers and requested they be taken, they are warning the public to be aware of such websites that charge for Government services – such as call connection sites – that are in fact free or charged at local call rates.
More recently, we have seen scams develop further with fraudulent callers claiming to be the taxpayer’s accountant and again using threatening behaviour in relation to an unpaid tax bill in order to gain money.
HMRC has a customer protection team who are dedicated to identifying and closing down these scams, but they are advising customers to try and help by looking out for the signs of a scam and reporting them. For example, organisations like HMRC and banks will never contact a customer to ask for their PIN, password or bank details.
If you believe you have received a suspicious call, text or email which claims to be from HMRC, you are asked to forward the details to email@example.com, or a text to 60599, or report online here.
Also, please note that the team at PM+M will never call using threatening behaviour demanding monies be paid over to HMRC, if you are unsure whether the caller is who they are purporting to be, please call our office and speak to a member of the PM+M team.
For further information, please see the ICAEW article here.