HMRC issues scam warning to tax credits customers

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Accountants can help by spreading the word on various scam strategies, and how to report them.

HMRC warns tax claimants should be on their guard against fraudsters, detailing the latest tactics being employed by scammers.

Criminals use deadlines – like the tax credits renewal deadline on 31 July – to target their victims and the department is warning around 1.5 million tax credits customers to be alert to scams that mimic government communications to make them appear genuine.

Typical scam examples include

  • emails or texts claiming an individual’s details aren’t up to date and that they risk losing out on payments that are due to them
  • emails or texts claiming that a direct debit payment hasn’t ‘gone through’
  • phone calls threatening arrest if people don’t immediately pay fake tax owed
  • claims that the victim’s national insurance number has been used in fraud
  • emails or texts offering spurious tax rebates or bogus grants or support

Tax scams come in many forms and we’re urging customers to be alert to the tactics used by fraudsters and never to let yourselves be rushed. If someone contacts you saying they’re from HMRC and asks you to give personal information or urgently transfer money, be on your guard. Search ‘HMRC scams’ advice on GOV.UK to find out how to report scams and help us fight these crimes.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services

Scam messages can be convincing, and individuals may be pressured into making rushed decisions. HMRC will never ring anyone out of the blue making threats or asking them to transfer money.

According to the National Cyber Security Centre, HMRC was the third-most spoofed Government body in 2022, behind the NHS and TV Licensing. HMRC is also urging tax credits customers to be alert to misleading websites or adverts asking them to pay for government services which are free, often by charging for a connection to HMRC helplines.

HMRC is also warning people not to share their HMRC login details with anyone else. Someone using these could steal from the account owner or make a fraudulent claim in their name and leave customers having to pay back the full value of any fraudulent repayment claim made on their behalf.

HMRC’s advice

Protect

  • criminals are cunning – protect your information
  • take a moment to think before parting with your money or information
  • use strong and different passwords on all your accounts so criminals are less able to target you

Recognise

  • if a phone call, text or email is suspicious or unexpected, don’t give out private information or reply, and don’t download attachments or click on links
  • check on GOV.UK that the contact is genuinely from HMRC
  • do not trust caller ID on phones. Numbers can be spoofed

Report

  • if you’re unsure about a text claiming to be from HMRC forward it to 60599, or an email to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk. Report a tax scam phone call on GOV.UK
  • contact your bank immediately if you’ve had money stolen, and report it to Action Fraud
    • in Scotland, contact the police on 101
  • by reporting phishing emails, you help stop criminal activity and prevent other people falling victim

Tax credits and other help

HMRC is currently sending out tax credits renewal packs to customers and is reminding anyone who has not received theirs to wait until after 15 June before contacting HMRC.

Customers can renew their tax credits for free via GOV.UK or the HMRC appHelp and support is available on GOV.UK to help renew tax credits claim.

HMRC has a video explaining how tax credits customers can use the HMRC app to view, manage and update their details.

How do I use the HMRC app to manage my tax credits?

By the end of 2024, tax credits will be replaced by Universal Credit. Customers who receive tax credits will receive a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) telling them when to claim Universal Credit. It is important that customers claim by the deadline shown in the letter to continue receiving financial support as their tax credits will end even if they decide not to claim Universal Credit.

The Government is offering Help for Households. Check GOV.UK to find out what cost of living support individuals could be eligible for.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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