HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are warning self-assessment customers to be on alert for potential scams, as the 31 January tax return deadline approaches.
HMRC's dedicated Customer Protection team is tasked with identifying and shutting down scams but the tax authority wants customers to recognise the tell-tale signs themselves to avoid becoming victims.
Nearly 900,000 reports about suspicious HMRC contact, including phone calls, texts or emails, were made to HMRC over the last year. Of these, more than 100,000 were phone scams, while over 620,000 were about bogus tax rebates.
The most common techniques fraudsters use, according to HMRC, include phoning taxpayers to offer a fake tax refund, or pretending to be HMRC by texting or emailing a link which takes customers to a false page, where their bank details and money will be stolen. Scammers sometimes threaten victims with arrest or imprisonment if a phoney tax bill is not paid immediately.
HMRC are urging customers not to give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in texts or emails they are not expecting. They also ask that suspicious activity be reported immediately.
Details of suspicious calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org and texts to 60599.
Examples of the types of bogus communications scammers use can be found on the GOV.UK website.