HMRC have warned about a sophisticated new scam where fraudsters, posing as the taxman, demand you pay back tax or face punitive fines. They are using the busy Christmas period when many people are also mindful of the coming 31 January self-assessment deadline coming to scam unsuspecting people into handing over thousands of pounds.
HMRC have published updated guidance to help people find out how to recognise when contact from HMRC is genuine, and how to recognise phishing or bogus emails and text messages.
Phishing is the fraudulent act of emailing a person in order to obtain their personal or financial information such as passwords and credit card or bank account details.
These emails often include a link to a bogus website encouraging you to enter your personal details.
Telephone calls are also being used, with people being left a voice message saying they owe back taxes that urgently needed repaying. The caller ID shows HMRC’s official numbers which are in fact clone numbers and on returning the call the call is then picked up by the criminal.
HMRC says it would call people about paying a debt only if it had already sent them a letter, or if the taxpayer had informed it that they owed some tax.
“If you’re in doubt, we recommend you end the call and contact HMRC using one of the numbers or online services available from gov.uk,” it adds.
The department has also used social media to warn about scammers impersonating its staff to trick self-employed workers and small business owners.