With the deadline for returning paper Self Assessment tax returns for the 2021 to 2022 tax year rapidly approaching, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has warned taxpayers to be on the lookout for fraudsters.
HMRC says it has responded to more than 180,000 referrals of suspicious contact from the public, in the 12 months to August 2022, of which almost 81,000 were scams offering fake tax rebates.
For paper files, the Self Assessment deadline is 31 October 2022 and for those filing online, the date is 31 January 2023.
HMRC urges caution
In spite of the approaching deadline, HMRC has warned people not to rush into anything if they are contacted out of the blue.
Conmen have targeted individuals by offering bogus tax rebates and even threatening arrest for tax evasion.
Taxpayers should be suspicious of cold calls, unexpected emails or messages. It’s not normal for legitimate organisations to contact you and ask for sensitive information if you’re not expecting them to.
If you are contacted by phone, the advice is to hang up if you are not 100 per cent convinced about the identity of the caller.
HMRC has shared a checklist on GOV.UK and identified a number of scams, asking:
- Is the communication trying to rush you?
- Does it have a threatening tone?
- Has it come out of the blue?
- Is it asking for personal information like bank details and telling you to transfer money?
- Is it offering a refund, tax rebate or grant?
For those who have not filed a Self Assessment return previously, they might be tricked into clicking on links in these emails or texts and revealing personal or financial information to criminals.
Be aware of the fraudsters’ playbook
Fraudsters can use vague details as part of the scam, which could encourage you to use premium rate numbers starting with 09, or a PO box.
So-called ‘phishing’ emails, calls, texts and letters will try to trick you into sending cash or disclosing personal information.
Too good to be true?
As the old phrase states, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. So, use common sense.
A real giveaway is a communication full of spelling and grammar errors, which would not be the case with a communication from HMRC.
Anyone who receives suspicious communication is advised to report it here.
Do you need help with taxation matters? Contact our team today.