As people get ready to file their 2020–2022 tax returns, the UK government has issued a warning to be on the lookout for phoney tax rebate frauds (tax scams).
Even in the best of circumstances, making sure your self-employed paperwork is exact and accurate can be challenging. It can be a nightmare if you’re worried that scammers would make everything worse.
As you organize your receipts and spreadsheets during tax season, a flood of phoney emails, messages, and even phone calls may find their way into your workstation. The following is a statement from the UK’s HMRC tax department:
“In the twelve months leading up to August 2022, HMRC reacted to more than 180,000 public reports of suspicious contact, of which around 81,000 involved frauds promising phoney tax rebates.
Criminals impersonating HMRC have sent emails, texts, and phone calls to their intended victims, threatening to arrest them for tax evasion or offering fictitious tax rebates”.
Facts and figures
In general, HMRC is very harsh when it comes to fakeouts and scam portals. In the twelve months leading up to August 2022, it:
- 181,296 reports of suspicious contact received an answer.
- Reacted to 55,386 phone scam reports.
- 10,565 harmful websites were reported for removal.
- Removed 48 phone numbers that were being used for fraud.
Yes, it is a respectable amount of takedown action. You can follow any or all of the following instructions to add to this total:
- Forward phishing emails to [email protected].
- Suspicious texts can be forwarded to 60599.
- Bogus phone calls can be reported using an online form.
What can you do to protect yourself from receiving phoney HMRC-related messages in light of all of this?
Avoiding scams in a taxing time
A few characteristics recur frequently in the world of false tax scams. As you can probably guess, a lot of it depends on bogus refunds. Often, the scammers aren’t looking for “only” your tax information or logins. They won’t think twice about adding more of your data to the mix if they can.
What to watch out for is listed below:
- Be extremely wary of email attachments that purport to be refunded. The attachment can contain malware or attempt to send you to a phishing website. This is not how refunds are handled by HMRC.
- Some fraudulent refund websites may entice you to “search” for your account by providing your email, birthdate, and other details. After viewing one phoney search result page, you will be prompted to provide the remaining details.
- Phishing targeting bank portal logins will be a subset of many HMRC phishing attacks. Sites that advertise refund or tax assistance can never be trusted, whether the landing page has a padlock or not. Go directly to the website if you wish to the banking portal. A “too good to be true” email’s link chain is a formula for tax and banking disaster. They might also try to get your email logins, which is connected. The same guidelines apply: refrain from visiting these URLs, and if you do, don’t submit your login information, financial information, or personal data.
- Unexpected phone calls that seem urgent should be viewed with considerable caution. This is extremely suspicious behavior if they say they are offering a refund, but “just for a few more days” or even just for the duration of the call. It’s intended to catch the potential victim off guard and cause them to make a snap judgment. Any legitimate call would allow you to call the company yourself and follow up. It is a con!