A former pensions minister turned political campaigner is urging members of the public to be wary of “distressing” scam telephone calls purporting to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Baroness Ros Altman has spoken out on the issue after an 85-year-old woman was left in shock this week when a scam caller threatened to come to her house and arrest her over a bogus tax debt, Yahoo Finance reports.
The anonymous victim was frightened by the fact that the fraudster held surprisingly detailed personal information about her on record, including her home address.
She was told that she owed £4,000 to HMRC, which must be paid immediately or else she would be arrested.
The terrified pensioner attempt to contact her accountant, but was unable to reach him on the phone and so instead contacted Baroness Altman.
“She was in a terrible panic when she called me. The fact that they knew her address was the most frightening aspect for her,” Baroness Altman said.
The former pensions minister is now hoping to warn others of the incident, and other similar telephone scams that involve fraudsters posing as HMRC officials – as this is not the first time such an occurrence has made headlines.
“People should be made aware that nobody who calls them out of the blue like this will be bona fide,” she said.
“These people are evil and we should ban distressing cold calls like this.”
In a recent statement, an HMRC spokesperson has said: “We are aware that some customers have received telephone calls claiming to be from HMRC requesting personal information/bank account details in order to demand money for an unpaid tax bill.”
They added that taxpayers should never disclose their personal details if they are unable to identify the caller.
HMRC has published guidance on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact in phone calls and phishing emails here.