HMRC issues scam warning ahead of Self Assessment deadline

The department stated that 2021 has already seen 797,010 tax-related scams reported

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has warned taxpayers that the approaching Self Assessment deadline could be used by fraudsters to commit financial and identity theft.

The warning comes as the department prepares to issue over four million emails and text messages that will remind Self Assessment customers of the 31 January 2022 deadline.

This could provide an opportunity for scammers to pose as HMRC in an effort to obtain money or personal data from unsuspecting taxpayers.

The department stated that 2021 has already seen 797,010 tax-related scams reported so far, out of which 357,567 offered fake tax rebates. It has also worked to take down 8,561 malicious websites as well as received 327,044 reports of phone scams in total – an increase of 21% since 2020.

HMRC’s director general for Customer Services, Myrtle Lloyd, warned taxpayers to not allow themselves to “be rushed” into transferring money or giving out personal information when contacted by someone claiming to be from HMRC.

She also said that it’s not in HMRC’s practice to “ring up threatening arrest” – a common form of scam that attempts to threaten people into paying out large sums of money.

“Only criminals do that,” said Lloyd, adding that “scams come in many forms”. 

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“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,” she said.

The warning comes weeks after a new Ofcom report revealed an alarming uptick in smishing attacks, with three quarters of adults under the age of 35 having received text scams. Based on the findings, the regulator estimates that 44.6 million people were targeted by scam calls and texts over the summer of 2021.

HMRC stated that it’s working with Ofcom as well as the wider telecoms industry to remove more than 1,282 phone numbers being used to commit HMRC-related phone scams.

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