A sharp rise in the number of scam emails and text messages targeting taxpayers has been flagged by HMRC, with renewed warnings that criminals are attempting to trick the public into thinking they have received a tax rebate so they hand over their account and personal details.
The tax authority says the scams are timed to coincide with the period in which HMR is processing tax refunds after the end of the 2017- 2018 tax year.
Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury, 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.’
In March 2018 HMRC requested 2,672 phishing websites be taken down and received 84,549 phishing reports, and the tax authority warns that this kind of phishing is expected to continue in the coming months as genuine tax refunds are issued.
HMRC advises that income tax for 6 April 2017 to 5 April 2018 will be calculated over the coming months and anyone owed a genuine tax rebate will receive a tax calculation letter by post between June and October.
HMRC advises taxpayers to recognise the signs – genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact anyone out of the blue to ask for their PIN, password or bank details.
It also advises people to stay safe by not giving out private information, replying to text messages, downloading attachments or clicking on links in emails they were not expecting.