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HMRC warns on tax refund scams

HMRC is calling on people to stay vigilant in the fight against fraudsters, who are using email and text messages to scam them out of their savings.

May 12th, 2018

HMRC is calling on people to stay vigilant in the fight against fraudsters, who are using email and text messages to scam them out of their savings. It’s important to be particularly vigilant at this time of year when HMRC is processing tax refunds for 2017/18.

The tax authority is currently processing tax refunds after the end of the 2017/18 tax year. However, criminals are taking advantage of this by sending out scam emails and SMS-messages to trick the public into thinking they have received a tax rebate so they hand over their account and personal details. 

HMRC only informs people about tax refunds through the post or through their pay via their employer. All emails, text messages, or voicemail messages saying someone has a tax refund are a scam. Do not click on any links in these messages, and forward them to HMRC’s phishing email address and phone number. 

Many of these fraudulent emails and texts include links which take the user to dubious websites where their information can be stolen. These sites are a focus of HMRC’s efforts to tackle fraud. In March 2018, it requested 2,672 phishing websites be taken down and received 84,549 phishing reports. This kind of phishing is expected to continue in the coming months as genuine tax refunds are issued. 

Income Tax for 6 April 2017 to 5 April 2018 will be calculated over the coming months and anyone owed a genuine tax rebate will receive a tax calculation letter by post between June and October. 

HMRC advises customers to:

  • recognise the signs - genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact people out of the blue to ask for their PIN, password or bank details
  • stay safe - do not give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails that weren’t expected
  • take action - forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use its online fraud reporting tool
  • check GOV.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact

If you think you have received an HMRC-related phishing/bogus email or text message, you can check it against the examples shown in the above guide.

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