HMRC phone scams are on the rise – how to protect yourself

The Government has been successful in clamping down on text and email phishing scams; however, fraudsters have become even more sophisticated with their phone scams and reports suggest that these are on the rise.

These scams involve ringing taxpayers to tell them about a fraudulent tax liability and then threatening them with arrest if they refuse to make payment over the phone.  The phone calls are disguised to look like they have come from an HMRC phone number, making the call look genuine. 

If you receive an urgent demand to pay tax over the phone, please be aware that HMRC will never call you to say that you owe money. HMRC will only call to discuss a debt that you are already aware of by sending you a demand by post first.  

Fraudsters who pretend to be from HMRC use many different tactics to obtain money from their victims. Another variation of the scam involves fraudsters calling to ‘inform’ you that you are under suspicion for tax fraud. They ask victims to confirm details such as name and address, before saying how much is ‘owed’. To get victims to comply, they use the threat of legal action or even jail.

How to protect yourself from scam phone calls 

  • Do not reply to unsolicited text messages and emails. Also, do not download attachments or click on links. HMRC will never contact you to request your personal information. 
  • Forward suspicious emails and details of calls claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and texts to 60599.
  • Contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 if you suffer any financial loss. 

HMRC’s website also provides guidance on how to avoid and report scams which you can visit here. 

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