Self-assessment customers could be a target for fraudsters, warns HMRC

Self-assessment customers, who are starting to think about their annual tax returns for the 2021 to 2022 tax year, must guard against being targeted by fraudsters, warns HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

In the 12 months leading up to August 2022, HMRC responded to more than 180,000 suspicious contact referrals from the public, of which nearly 81,000 were scams offering bogus tax refunds.

Criminals claiming to be from HMRC targeted individuals via email, text and phone with their communications ranging from offering bogus tax refunds to threatening arrest for tax evasion. Contacts like these should sound the alarm – HMRC would never call for a threatening arrest.

Anyone contacted by someone claiming to be from HMRC in a way that arouses suspicion, you are advised to take your time and check the scam advice on GOV.UK.

Customers can report suspicious activity to HMRC. They can transmit suspicious texts claiming to be from HMRC on 60599 and by email at [email protected] Any fraudulent telephone calls may be reported to HMRC using the online form at GOV.UK.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRCThe Managing Director of Client Services, said:

Never get pushed around. If someone contacts you saying they are from HMRCwanting you to urgently transfer money or give out personal information, be on your guard.

HMRC will never call and threaten to be arrested. Only criminals do that.

Tax scams come in many forms. Some threaten to be arrested immediately for tax evasion, others offer a rebate. Contacts like these should set off alarm bells, so take your time and check’HMRC scam tips’ on GOV.UK.

Fraudsters target customers when they know they are more likely to be in contact with HMRC, which is why Self-Assessment clients should be especially vigilant about this activity. There is a risk that they will be tricked by fraudulent text messages, emails or calls offering a ‘refund’ or demanding unpaid tax, thinking they are genuine. HMRC communications referring to their self-assessment statement.

Some customers who have not yet completed a self-assessment return may be tricked into clicking on links in these emails or text messages and revealing personal or financial information to criminals.

The deadline for filing paper tax returns for the 2021 to 2022 tax year is October 31, 2022 and January 31, 2023 for those filing their tax returns online. Customers filing their return online via GOV.UK should not share their HMRC login details. Someone using the details could steal from the customer or make a fraudulent claim on their behalf.

HMRC actively cracks down on scams and fraudsters who attempt to imitate the genuine HMRC activity and messages. The department’s dedicated customer protection team works continuously to identify and eliminate scams.

HMRC also tackles deceptive websites designed to trick people into paying for services that should be free or low-cost, by charging to connect people to free services HMRC telephone help lines. To protect the public, HMRC formally challenges and appropriates HMRC-branded internet or website domain names. Since 2017, the department has recovered more than 183 websites hosting low-value services such as call-connect sites, saving the public millions of pounds.

More information

More information on self-assessment

In the 12 months leading up to August 2022, HMRC has:

  • responded to 181,296 reports of suspicious contacts from the public. Some 80,662 of them offered bogus tax refunds
  • responded to 55,386 total scam reports over the phone, down 87% from the previous year. In April 2020 HMRC received reports of only 425 scams by phone. In August 2022, it was 5,913
  • flagged 10,565 malicious web pages for removal
  • worked with the telecommunications industry and Ofcom to remove 48 phone numbers used to sign up HMRC– related telephone scams.

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