HM Revenue and Customs is warning taxpayers not to be caught out by scam emails, phone calls or texts, as the self assessment tax return deadline looms.
According to the tax authority, almost 800,000 tax-related scams were reported in the last year and it has also received nearly 360,000 bogus tax rebate referrals.
The self assessment deadline is January 31, 2022 and therefore people may expect to hear from HMRC around this time of year.
This gives fraudsters an opportunity to try and steal money or personal information from unsuspecting individuals.
More than 4m emails and text messages will be issued this week to self assessment taxpayers pointing them to guidance and support, 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 January 31.
But HMRC is warning these people 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, said: “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."
He added: “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 on Gov.UK and find out how to report them to us.”
Fraudsters will often copy government messages to make them appear genuine and to trick unsuspecting individuals, often to get them to hand over money or personal information.
HMRC has a dedicated team working on cyber and phone crimes. They use technology to prevent misleading and malicious communications from reaching the customer.
According to the authority, since 2017 this has prevented 500m emails from reaching taxpayers.
HMRC is also reminding people to double check websites and online forms before using them to complete their 2020/21 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.
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