Watch out for ‘aggressive’ HMRC scams

Taxpayers are being reminded to be on the lookout for scam telephone calls, emails and text messages purporting to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), amid concerns that such ‘scams’ are growing increasingly aggressive.

In some cases, fraudsters posing as HMRC officials are making unsolicited telephone calls demanding payments for overdue debts and trying to pressure people into handing over their bank details over the phone, it has emerged.

Meanwhile, email scams purporting to be from HMRC are growing increasingly convincing – with many being able to closely replicate the Revenue’s branding and sender addresses.

On the upside, the tax authority reported earlier this year that it had been somewhat successful in reducing the number of scam text messages taxpayers receive from fraudsters, after it began using intelligent new software to stop unsolicited texts in their tracks.

Towards the end of January, HMRC confirmed that it had “stopped thousands of taxpayers from receiving scam text messages, with 90 per cent of the most convincing texts now halted before they reach their phones.”

This was achieved using new technology capable of identifying fraud texts with ‘tags’ that suggest they are from HMRC ahead of time.

Since the Revenue has been using this software, it claims that text message scams with HMRC-related tags have been practically eliminated.

Unfortunately however, email and telephone scams still appear to be at large.

HMRC is reminding taxpayers that it will never contact customers who are due a tax refund by text message or by email.

However, it has confirmed that customers “may be telephoned by a representative from Kantar Public, asking them to participate in a survey on behalf of HMRC about the dealings people have with them.”

Nevertheless, taxpayers are reminded that these surveys will never request any personal or financial information.