HMRC is urging people to stay vigilant and aware of fraudsters who are using emails and text messages to con people out of their money.
Tricksters are sending messages that promise tax rebates to trick people into giving out their banking and personal details.
Criminals are taking advantage of the current timing of HMRC processing tax refunds after the end of the 2017 to 2018 tax year.
They are tricking the public by telling them they are owed a tax rebate so in turn they hand over their account details to them.
Commenting on this, Treasury minister Mel Stride MP 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.”
HMRC advises customers to:
- Recognise the signs – Banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details
- Stay safe – Do not 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 email@example.com texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use its online fraud reporting tool
- 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
These scam messages are at the forefront of HMRC’s concerns regarding tackling fraud and they often include website links which direct users to dodgy websites where their details can be stolen.
This March alone, it requested 2,672 phishing websites to be closed and received 84,549 phishing reports.
HMRC are expecting a similar scale of reports during the coming months as genuine tax refunds are issued.
People who are owed rebates for April 2017 – April 2018 tax year will receive a letter between June and October – not an email or text message.
HMRC will post you a tax calculation in the form of a P800 or a simple assessment letter if you haven’t paid the right amount at the end of the tax year
Stride said: “If you have paid too much tax, the letter will explain how you can get your refund paid to you. If you have not paid enough tax, the letter will tell you how much you owe and how you can pay.”
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.