Self-employed urged to be vigilant in the wake of increasing tax-related scams leading up to the 2022 self-assessment deadline
Posted on 29th November 2021 by Phil Ainley MCIM, CMktr, Dip DigM - Marketing Manager
With the January 2022 self-assessment date fast approaching, HMRC has issued a fraud warning to all self-employed professionals urging vigilance in the wake of increasing tax-related scams in the past 12 months.
Some 800,000 reports of tax-related scam were reported in the past year, with many more likely to have gone unreported by recipients.
The tax authority has recently sent over 4million texts and emails to self-assessors who are due to file their 2020-21 tax return urging them to get organized so that fraudsters cannot take advantage of them.
Scams to be aware of
HMRC stated that it responded to 797,010 referrals of suspicious contact from members of the public, with almost 360,000 being offers of fake tax rebates.
Fraudsters typically send emails or a texts with a link for the recipient to click… Do not click that link. This is a way for fraudsters to harvest your personal details for their own gain.
Telephone scams are also said to be on the increase, with a 21% rise compared to the previous year. HMRC revealed it had received 327,000+ reports of suspicious phone calls.
Automated phone messages telling people that they owe tax and that HMRC has issued a warrant for arrest unless payment is received are also common and can be extremely stressful for the recipient. That stress is what compels the recipient to call and make the payment thinking they are clearing their alleged debt, but the money only goes into the scammer’s pockets.
Copycat and malicious websites are also common, with over 8,500 malicious web pages being taken down in the past year. These website are set up to gain your personal information and force you to make an unnecessary payment.
Protecting yourself from tax scams
- If you were not expecting contact from HMRC, then it is possibly a scam message. Contact HMRC about the contact you’ve received to find out if it is genuine before you click on any link or send any form of reply to the message.
- HMRC typically will not rush you into making a payment. Therefore, any phone call or other message that informs you that payment is required urgently is probably fraudulent. Do not pay anything, inform HMRC to ensure the message is genuine or not.
- You will never be threatened with arrest by HMRC. Any message threatening you will be a scam and not a genuine HMRC correspondence.
- Regarding tax rebate message, the old saying ‘if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is’ You must be hyper-vigilant when it comes to message about tax rebates. Report these messages to HMRC giving them as much detail as you can.
- Regarding website pages and email, check the email address and the website url carefully before you do anything else. You will likely see that these addresses are not legitimate. Report the email or web page.
Reporting phishing emails can be done by forwarding the email message to email@example.com
You can forward scam texts to 60599.
What to do if you have been a victim of a tax scam
If you have been cajoled into transferring money to a fraudulent account, or into giving out your bank details, this is called bank transfer fraud, which is also known as Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud.
If your bank is signed up to the voluntary Authorised Push Payment Scam Code, it has to take a number of steps to protect its customers and reimburse them if they are not to blame for the financial loss.
The Treasury has committed to make legislative changes that will make it mandatory for banks to reimburse scam victims.
You should also alert the authorities by contacting Action Fraud, or if you’re in Scotland call the police on 101.
For more in-depth information about how you can protect yourself against scams, Which? Has a range of advice-based articles that will help you.
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