Young people targeted with phone tax scams

HMRC is warning young adults who may have less experience of the tax system to be especially vigilant about tax refund scams via smartphone, as fraudsters ramp up activity after the self assessment season

During April and May, fraudsters regularly blitz taxpayers with refund scams by email or text pretending to be HMRC. Criminals do this to coincide with legitimate rebates being processed by HMRC.

HMRC says these messages include spoofed calls, voicemails and text messages. They are designed to encourage people to provide bank details, in exchange for a payment worth hundreds of pounds, on a fake government website to harvest private information and steal money. It confirms that HMRC will never ask someone to provide bank details by text or email.

Last spring alone, HMRC received around 250,000 reports of tax scams – which is nearly 2,500 a day – and requested that over 6,000 phishing websites be deactivated.

In the 12 months to February 2019 HMRC received 73,382 reports of suspicious HMRC phone calls, and asked phone carriers to remove more than 400 unique numbers associated with scams.

Angela MacDonald, head of customer services at HMRC, said: ‘We are determined to protect honest people from these fraudsters who will stop at nothing to make their phishing scams appear legitimate.

‘HMRC is currently shutting down hundreds of phishing sites a month. If you receive one of these emails or texts, don’t respond and report it to HMRC so that more online criminals are stopped in their tracks.’

When taxpayers file returns to HMRC, they will then legitimately receive a tax calculation as well as an email promoting them to check their personal tax accounts, but no other HMRC communication. As many taxpayers file self assessment returns, most of HMRC’s contact happens in the months after January.

If an individual has paid too much tax, HMRC will issue the repayment automatically either direct into their bank account or if they have indicated on their tax return there is no bank account then HMRC will send a cheque. In the case of underpayments of tax, HMRC will tell taxpayers how much they owe and how to pay securely

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