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More than 500,000 of these were related to supposed communications from HMRC regarding bogus tax rebates and HMRC responded to 306,219 reports of phone scams, an increase of 47% on the previous 12 months. 

The tax authority is subsequently reminding individuals and small businesses of what to look for in fraudulent HMRC communications ahead of the 31st January deadline for 2019-20 self-assessment tax returns.

Typically, fraudsters are targeting taxpayers by telephone offering a fake tax rebate. In addition, some fraudsters also text or email taxpayers with a phishing link to a supposed HMRC landing page, where bank details and money is unwittingly stolen.

Some fraudsters have even been known to threaten vulnerable taxpayers with arrest or, worse still, imprisonment if a bogus tax bill is not paid in full immediately.

HMRC has a dedicated Customer Protection department in place to eliminate such scams, but it is calling on taxpayers to be more vigilant in the coming weeks by recognising the signs of fraudulent communications.

First and foremost, HMRC will never contact taxpayers asking for their PIN, password or bank details.

Secondly, taxpayers are encouraged not to give out sensitive information via text messages, or to download email attachments and click on links within texts or emails that they aren’t expecting.

HMRC has also reported more than 15,500 malicious web pages to internet service providers to be taken down and is warning the public to be aware of websites that charge for Government services – such as call connection sites – that are in fact free or charged at local call rates.

In the event taxpayers experience suspected fraudulent activity, they are encouraged to forward details of suspicious calls, texts or emails to [email protected] or text the information to 60599.

Last updated: 8th January 2021

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