Ways to Spot a Tax Scam and Save Yourself from Being Duped

Tax Scam

February 06, 2021

With the self-assessment online deadline moving ever closer the panic amongst people is increasing. However, it isn’t just the deadline that people should fear as criminals are trying to reap the benefit of this paranoia to get customers to share their financial or personal details for their ill-gotten gains. Interestingly, these people boldly declare themselves to be belonging to none other than the taxman – HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

  1. 1- Fraudsters have upped their game

Fraudsters are proving to be tricky and versatile by their varied communication channels through which they hope to catch their unsuspecting prey. They are now using not just telephone calls but texts and emails as well. In fact, HMRC has had over 8,46,000 referrals of such fraudulent communication in the past year. Also, the HMRC has proactively noted down above 15,500 malicious websites and pages that need to be removed before they snare unsuspecting customers. And what is the catch line? Well, tax rebates seem to be trending as around 5,00,000 of these pages refer to fake tax rebates or ask you to pay self-assessment that is bogus.

  1. 2- Whom to report?

The HMRC has a Customer Protection Department

  • - Email at- phishing@hmrc.gov.uk
  • - Text at: 60599

Note: phone scams can also be reported on Gov.uk online

  1. 3- Know their game

So, how are frauds managing to scam people? Here is a list of the trending scams so that you are in the know as to what to avoid:

  • - Hey you have a tax refund/rebate due! – note – this is fake
  • - Language snares – the language might sound professional/authoritative and ask for personal information such as bank account details so that the refund can be processed – sounds innocent?
  • - Well, it turns out that just sharing your bank details are enough to run you into trouble. These criminals could access the bank account using the details and convince the unsuspecting victims into making a payment towards a fraudulent tax bill or this personal information could be sold to similar criminals – ouch – not so seemingly innocent now, is it?
  1. 4- Penalty or Refund

It has been found that during peak deadline times like now (as we are counting towards the 31st January 2021 deadline) … fraudsters like to take advantage of the already present panic. And they do this by two common methods.

  • - Penalty – they work on the customer’s fear and so send over a bogus bill and threaten the client with a heavy penalty if not cleared immediately. Whatever your tax bill please remember the HMRC will assist you in every way they can to make payments easier and not chase you like a loan shark’s collection agent!
  • - Refund – saying that you have a HMRC tax return/rebate you need to collect if you can just visit the link or email your bank details is the most common way, they operate
  1. 5- Fraudsters calling

Most of these fraudsters have taken to calling, taxting or emailing saying that they are from the HMRC. They either ask for money or make a fake offer of financial assistance. If you do not recall being eligible for a refund or find someone asking for bank related details even if they claim to be from HMRC, it should ring alarm bells.

  1. 6- What should you do if you receive a fraud call?

It is best that you disconnect the call instead of continuing to speak to the imposter. Stay away from accidentally clicking any links in emails or texts sent. Also, call the HMRC from the number that was contacted so that you can be 100% certain whether you received a call from the HMRC or not.

  1. 7- What if you have become the victim of a fraud?
  • - The first step is – contact your bank immediately
  • - Secondly – report this on Action Fraud – online OR call 0300 123 240
  1. 8- Other warnings from HMRC worth heeding

HMRC does not contact taxpayers for bank details, PIN or passwords nor should tax payers do so by text, email or telephonically. Emails with links or attachments should also be treated with caution. Web pages could also prove to be booby traps. The public should also be wary as there are websites that actually charge for free government services so the levels of scams are multiple and thus, constant vigilance would prove to be the ticket here.

How to spot a tax scam – questions to ask yourself

  • - Was it an unexpected communication?
  • - Are you being offered a tax rebate, refund or perhaps, a grant?
  • - Does it require you to part with personal information like bank related details?
  • - Have you received some threatening request?
  • - Are you being asked to transfer money?

Doshi Accountants can have your self-assessment tax return processed for you. Imagine thins – you are told well in advance as to what documents are needed – so no need to rush. The return is then accurately and securely filed and that to with the best tax computation giving you a refund/rebate as the situation permits. Or you may find that you owe the government less taxes that you thought due to your other expenses. Therefore, you do not have to worry and if there is a tax investigation Doshi Accountants is present. If you receive any email form the taxman you simply have to forward it without bothering to see if it is a fraudulent one or not as your accountant takes care of it all the way it should be. Let us help make your tax less taxing!