HMRC has called on people to be vigilant, with online fraud currently rampant over email and text communications. With tax refunds being processed following the end of the tax year, the authority is reminding the public that this is a fruitful period for the unscrupulous.
Many criminals use scam emails and text messages to fool people into passing on their bank details, under the pretence of a tax refund.
Typical scam messages will direct the user to websites designed to grab their details and HMRC is doing its best to close these down. In March this year it requested termination of over 2500 ‘phishing’ sites, having received over 80000 reports from concerned members of the public.
HMRC has also achieved a 90% decrease in reported abuse of protected HMRC SMS text messaging tags by implementing SMS firewalling.
HMRC has also reminded people that anyone genuinely owed a rebate or owing additional funds will receive a P800 or Simple Assessment letter by post between June and October. The letter will explain exactly how much is involved.
HMRC has also provided a useful guide to help avoid being scammed:
- Recognise the signs – genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.
- Stay safe – don’t give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren’t expecting.
- Take action – forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to firstname.lastname@example.org and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use their online fraud reporting tool here: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud
- Check GOV.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact.
- If you think you have received an HMRC related phishing/bogus email or text message, you can check it against the examples shown in this guide: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/phishing-and-bogus-emails-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples/phishing-emails-and-bogus-contact-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples
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.
“We know that criminals will try and use events like the end of the financial year, the self-assessment deadline, and the issuing of tax refunds to target the public and attempt to get them to reveal their personal data. It is important to be alert to the danger.”