The HMRC has issued a press release this month warning people of the dangers of tax refund scams. In it they say:
“Fraudsters are sending scam emails and SMS-messages that promise tax rebates to trick people into disclosing their account and personal details.”
They are urging everyone to stay vigilant and not be taken in by fraudsters who are using both email and text messages as a means to carry out the scam which targets people’s savings.
At this time of year the tax authority is processing tax refunds because the 2017/18 tax year has ended. Hence criminals are targeting people at the same time as legitimate refunds are occurring and they are attempting to discover personal and banking details by offering bogus refunds.
Treasury Minister Mel Stride MP, the 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.”
The most common method being used is for the email or text to contain a link to a bugs website that then collects your data. Remember that HMRC does not advise you of refunds by email, text or voicemail so anyone who contacts you this way is a scammer,
HMRC are not just standing idly by however and are taking action against the websites by reporting them as malicious sites.
Advice from the HMRC includes:
- Recognise potential scammers as legitimate organisations such as HMRC will never ask for your PIN, password or bank details.
- If you weren’t expecting something, don’t click on the link or respond and never give out private information.
- You can report suspicious activity to email@example.com and texts to 60599 or call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
- Check the gov.uk website to see the legitimate ways HMRC may be contacting you. The guide is here.
If you are in business and have an accountant then we would always recommend calling them to discuss any tax refunds or charges. They should know if this is likely to be real or fake.
As always, if you have tax issues you would like advice on the MCC Accountants would be happy to help. Please call us or use our contact form.