As the self-assessment tax return deadline approaches, HMRC has been gearing up to issue emails and text messages to customers reminding them that the time to submit their returns is nigh. They are also stressing the importance of being aware of tricksters posing as representatives of HMRC attempting to scam people out of their money.
Be aware of scams
In the last year alone, there were nearly 800,000 tax-related scams reported. These fraudsters attempt to use self-assessment to steal money or personal information from unsuspecting individuals. As the submission deadline of 31st January 2022 approaches, customers will be expecting to hear from HMRC as reminders are issued. HMRC anticipate sending more than 4 million emails and texts to individuals who are required to submit a tax return and pay a tax bill. Therefore, they are advising that customers be aware of malicious emails, phone calls, or texts purporting to be from HMRC.
Advice to customers
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Service, has issued the following guidance:
- “Never let yourself be rushed. If someone contacts you saying they’re from HMRC, wanting you to urgently transfer money or give personal information, be on your guard.”
- “HMRC will also never ring up threatening arrest. Only criminals do that.”
- “Scams come in many forms. 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.”
How to prevent fraud
HMRC have a dedicated team working on cyber and phone crimes. They use state-of-the-art technology to ensure that misleading and fraudulent correspondence never reaches the customer. These new controls have prevented 90% of the most convincing text messages reaching their intended targets.
HMRC have also stressed that customers should double-check websites and online forms before using them to complete their tax returns. People can be duped by fraudulent websites designed to make them pay for help in submitting tax returns or charging to connect them to HMRC phone lines. If you are ever in doubt that something is legitimate, please visit the Self Assessment Tax Returns page on the official Government website, and use the free sign-posted tax return forms.
As always, if you would like any further information regarding the above, please feel free to contact our offices by email firstname.lastname@example.org.