HMRC has issued an official warning to millions of self-employed people throughout the UK to remain extra vigilant in the run up to the Self-Assessment deadline on 31st January 2020.
Statistics revealed by HMRC shows there has been almost 900,000 reports of suspicious contact over the last year – ranging from phone scams, social media scams, and bogus tax rebates which made up two thirds of all reports.
What should I look out for when it comes to fraudsters?
Fraudsters and scammers are using increasingly sophisticated methods to target their victims which are often very convincing, particularly around this time of year. So, what should you look out for?
- Am I being asked for personal details such as my PIN, password or bank details?
HMRC and other organisations such as banks will never contact you and ask for personal details such as these. Whilst they may ask for information such as the first line of your address, or your date of birth, you should never be asked to divulge secure personal information.
- Was I expecting a message?
Whether it be a call, text or email, first consider if you were expecting to receive a message, particularly from this recipient. Then consider the contents of the message. Is someone offering you a refund? Are there attachments or links? Does the senders email look like a legitimate domain? A level of scepticism will help protect you against fraudsters.
- How have I been contacted, and what have I been contacted about?
A text message, an email, or a phone call about a tax rebate with simple instructions about how to claim your money? If you are entitled to a tax rebate, HMRC will always communicate via letter. Under no circumstances will any other method of communication be used.
You should also be aware of copycat phishers, where fake websites are created that are almost identical to the verified domain. Also be aware of heavy-handed tactics, such as threats of arrest or imprisonment if immediate payment isn’t received.
What should I do if I think I am being targeted by scammers?
HMRC has a dedicated customer protection team which targets scammers – simply forward details of any suspected scams to firstname.lastname@example.org, or forward suspected scam texts to 60599 and they will investigate further.
We advise that everyone remains vigilant, not just those submitting Self Assessments. If you would like any further advice about protecting yourself against fraudsters, please get in touch with your usual contact or click here to send an enquiry, which will be directed to our team of in house experts.