Watch out for HMRC cold caller scam

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) is warning taxpayers about a scam by fraudsters who leave automated messages purporting to be HMRC and saying the person is under investigation for unpaid taxes.

In the latest ruse, scammers are cold calling people and leaving messages in which they impersonate HMRC members of staff and tell people they are under investigation for non-payment of taxes.

They seem to be targeting unsuspecting vulnerable and elderly people who will likely be panicked by such a message.

The message states that they need to call a certain number back, to discuss their situation straight away. If they call it, they are asked for their bank details in order to make a payment of ‘taxes’.

This scam has been widely reported, but despite warnings by HMRC, the scammers seem unperturbed.

LITRG has issued some tips for taxpayers who may be concerned about this type of call.

Key points:

  • HMRC sometimes use phone calls or automated messages (generally using a reference number that you recognise) but are unlikely to contact you about a matter such as this out of the blue;
  • telephone numbers can easily be faked. Never trust the number you see on your telephone display, even if it looks like an official HMRC number;
  • if you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately. Call HMRC directly to check if it was a genuine call – you can confirm the official call centre numbers on www.gov.uk
  • report these incidents on the Action Fraud website, or call them on 0300 123 2040 (please note this number will be charged at normal network rates). Monday to Friday 09:00 – 18:00.
  • report the full details of the scam to HMRC (date, time, phone number used and content of the call) using email phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
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