We have had reports of clients receiving fraudulent calls from imposters posing as HMRC and demanding instant payments for “outstanding debts”, whilst demonstrating very aggressive and threatening behaviour.
HMRC received more than 60,000 reports of phone scams in 6 months up to January 2019. This is an increase of 360% compared to the 6 months before this and numbers seem to be increasing even further. If you receive an urgent demand to pay tax over the phone, beware and take the time to check if the call is legitimate or not.
These calls can cover all aspects of tax from personal tax to PAYE and everything in between and the caller often threatens legal action and/or damage to the reputation of the business if the “outstanding debt” is not paid immediately. Some callers also state that only payments made by personal debit card/BACS only.
A HMRC spokesperson said: “We will only ever call you asking for payment on a debt that you are already aware of, either having received a letter about it, or after you’ve told us you owe some tax, for example through a self-assessment return.
“We work relentlessly to close scams down and make people aware of them. HMRC has a trusted brand which can be abused by fraudsters to trick people trying to fulfil their legal obligations. We have invested heavily in protecting taxpayers against scams and anyone who suffers financial loss as a result of one should inform Action Fraud.”
Whilst the calls may sound very convincing, if you are unsure please hang up and call HMRC back directly to check the accuracy of the call. You can also check any details against this guide which explains examples of bogus contact and phishing emails and of course, please remain vigilant.