800,000 tax-related scams were reported in the last 12 months
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is preparing to issue emails and SMS to Self Assessment filers reminding them to be on their guard after nearly 800,000 tax-related scams were reported.
Fraudsters are using Self Assessment to try and steal money or personal information from unsuspecting individuals. In the last year HMRC received nearly 360,000 bogus tax rebate referrals.
The Self Assessment deadline is 31st January 2022 and tax payers may expect to hear from HMRC at this time of year. More than 4 million emails and SMS will be issued to Self Assessment filers pointing to guidance and support, and prompting them to think about how they intend to pay their tax bill, and to seek support if they are unable to pay in full by 31st January.
However, the department is also warning customers to not be taken in by malicious emails, phone calls or texts, thinking that these are genuine HMRC communications referring to their Self Assessment tax return.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services:
Never let yourself be rushed. 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.
Scams come in many forms. Some threaten immediate arrest for tax evasion, others offer a tax rebate. Contacts like these should set alarm bells ringing, so if you are in any doubt whether the email, phone call or text is genuine, you can check the ‘HMRC scams’ advice … and find out how to report them…
Criminals use emails, phone calls and text messages to try and dupe individuals, and often mimic government messages to make them appear authentic. They want to trick their victims into handing over money or personal or financial information.
Taxpayers can report suspicious phone calls using a form on GOV.UK. They can also forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to firstname.lastname@example.org and texts to 60599.
HMRC has a dedicated team working on cyber and phone crimes. They use innovative technologies to prevent misleading and malicious communications from ever reaching the customer. Since 2017 these technical controls have prevented 500 million emails from reaching HMRC’s customers. More recently, new controls have prevented 90% of the most convincing SMS messages from reaching the public and controls have been applied to prevent spoofing of most HMRChelpline numbers.
HMRC is also reminding Self Assessment filers to double check websites and online forms before using them to complete their 2020 to 2021 tax return. People can be taken in by misleading websites designed to make them pay for help in submitting tax returns or charging to connect them to HMRC phone lines. Customers who are in any doubt about whether a website is genuine should visit GOV.UK for more information about Self Assessment and use free signposted tax return forms.
Self Assessment deadline
The Self Assessment deadline for 2020 to 2021 tax returns is 31st January 2022.
Find out more about how to declare taxable COVID-19 support in your tax return if you are self-employed, in a partnership or run a business.
Scale of the scams
In the last 12 months HMRC has:
- responded to 797,010 referrals of suspicious contact from the public – some 357,567 of these offered bogus tax rebates
- worked with the telecoms industry and Ofcom to remove more than 1,282 phone numbers being used to commit HMRC-related phone scams
- received 327,044 reports of phone scams in total, 21% up on the previous year
- reported 8,561 malicious web pages for takedown