Timely warning for tax credits customers to be on alert for scams
HM Revenue and Customs has put tax credit customers on high alert to watch out for potential scams, as the final annual renewal packs arrive in the mail this week.
In the past year (to 30 April 2021), the tax office fielded more than 1,154,300 public referrals of suspicious contact, and more than 576,960 of these offered bogus tax rebates.
At the same time, HMRC has been working with telecoms companies and Ofcom to remove more than 3,000 malicious telephone numbers, and with internet service providers, to take down over 15,700 malicious web pages.
In total, the tax office responded to 443,033 reports of phone scams, up 135 per cent from the previous year.
HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, Myrtle Lloyd said customers need to be vigilant.
“We’re urging all of our customers to be really careful if they are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or bank details,” said Mr Lloyd.
“There are a lot of scams out there where fraudsters are calling, texting or emailing customers claiming to be from HMRC. If you have any doubts, we suggest you don’t reply directly, and contact us yourself straight away. Search GOV.UK for our ‘scams checklist’ and to find out ‘how to report tax scams’.”
HMRC is concerned anyone doing their tax credits renewal who has received a tax or benefits scam email or text, might be tricked into thinking it was from HMRC and inadvertently share their personal details with criminals, or transfer money for a fake overpayment.
HMRC has offered some timely advice:
- Take a moment to think before parting with your money or information.
- Don’t give out private information or reply to text messages, and don’t download attachments or click on links in texts or emails you weren’t expecting.
- Do not trust caller ID on phones. Numbers can be spoofed.
- It’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests - only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- Search ‘scams’ on GOV.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact and how to avoid and report scams.
- Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to [email protected] and texts to 60599. Report scam phone calls on GOV.UK.
- Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, and report it to Action Fraud (in Scotland, contact the police on 101).
People can also follow the National Cyber Security Centre’s six essential steps to keep themselves and their businesses secure online by visiting CyberAware.gov.uk.
HMRC’s Cyber Security Operations has been working hard behind the scenes – and every day identifies and closes down fraudulent activity.
The department says many scams mimic government messages to appear authentic and reassuring, so watch out and don’t be conned. HMRC is a familiar brand, which criminals abuse to add credibility to their scams.
If customers cannot verify the identity of a caller, HMRC recommends that you do not speak to them. Customers can check GOV.UK for HMRC’s scams checklist to find out how to report tax scams and for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact.
HMRC says Tax credits help working families with targeted financial support, so it is important that people don’t miss out on money they are entitled to.
Customers have until 31 July to notify HMRC of any change in circumstances that could affect their claims.