Springtime tax scams target young and vulnerable, warns HMRC
Young adults who may have less experience of the tax system should be especially vigilant against springtime refund scams, warns HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The HMRC issued a warning recently, urging vulnerable or elderly people and those with less familiarity with the tax system, such as young adults, to beware of scammers.
During April and May, fraudsters regularly blitz taxpayers with refund scams by email or text pretending to be HMRC. Criminals do this to coincide with legitimate rebates being processed by HMRC.
The HMRC cautioned that they will encourage people to provide bank details, in exchange for a payment worth hundreds of pounds, on a fake government website to harvest private information and steal money.
Last Spring alone, HMRC received around 250,000 reports of tax scams – which is nearly 2,500 a day – and requested that over 6,000 phishing websites be deactivated.
"We are determined to protect honest people from these fraudsters who will stop at nothing to make their phishing scams appear legitimate," head of customer services at HMRC, Angela MacDonald, said.
Ms MacDonald explained that HMRC is currently shutting down hundreds of phishing sites a month.
"If you receive one of these emails or texts, don’t respond and report it to HMRC so that more online criminals are stopped in their tracks," she noted.
Katy Worobec of Take Five, the national campaign that advises on protection against financial fraud, said that while the offer of a tax rebate might sound tempting, people shouldn't let "the criminals hoodwink you into giving away your details or your cash".
"If you’re worried that you might have given away any of your information, then contact your bank straight away," Ms Worobec said.
When taxpayers file returns to HMRC, they will then legitimately receive a tax calculation as well as an email promoting them to check their personal tax accounts. As many taxpayers file self assessment returns, most of HMRC’s contact happens in the months after January.
If an individual has paid too much tax, HMRC will issue the repayment automatically either direct into their bank account or if they have indicated on their tax return there is no bank account then HMRC will send them a cheque. If an individual has not paid enough tax, HMRC will tell them how much they owe and how they can pay securely.