Every April and May, taxpayers are inundated with fraudsters purporting to be HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Refund scams circulate as it coincides with HMRC legitimately processing tax rebates.
HMRC have issued a warning to young people who are unfamiliar with the tax system to be vigilant about potential scams, with fraudsters increasing the number of scams as tax returns are filed.
250,000 tax scams were reported to HMRC in April and May last year, and HMRC requested that over 6,000 phishing websites be deactivated.
Messages including voicemails, text messages, and hoaxed calls are intended to encourage people to divulge personal information by promising payment in the form of a tax rebate. The scam is hosted on a fake government website, where they attempt to steal money and personal data.
Angela MacDonald, head of customer services at HMRC, said: ‘We are determined to protect honest people from these fraudsters who will stop at nothing to make their phishing scams appear legitimate.
‘HMRC is currently shutting down hundreds of phishing sites a month. If you receive one of these emails or texts, don’t respond and report it to HMRC so that more online criminals are stopped in their tracks.’
When taxpayers file their tax returns to HMRC, they subsequently receive a tax calculation along with an email telling them to check their personal tax accounts. Because many taxpayers file self-assessment returns, HMRC contact most people after January.
If somebody has paid too much tax, HMRC will then issue the rebate automatically. This will either go directly into their bank account unless they indicate otherwise, then a cheque will be sent. If tax has been underpaid, HMRC will inform the individual how much they owe and instruct them on how to securely pay.