Brits are being bombarded with fake "HMRC" tax scam emails and calls, where scammers try and trick people into handing over details in order to claim a fake tax rebate. You might wonder why someone could be fooled into believing they're owed a tax refund when it's normally automatically taken by HMRC out of their salary, but there are millions of self-employed Brits who file Self Assessment tax returns each year, making them the primary targets for refund scammers.
These tax scams are becoming increasingly slick and sophisticated – some even reference your Government Gateway Account – but there are a few obvious warning signs to help you spot it's fake. The classics include pressure to act quickly, asking for personal details and dubious links.
Similarly, it's worth knowing that HMRC never contacts taxpayers about refunds by telephone, and never uses external companies regarding refunds. Basically, if it doesn't come in the post from HMRC, it's fake. And, HMRC will never send a text message offering a tax refund in exchange for personal/banking info.
If you do receive such an email purporting to be from HMRC or an email promising a tax rebate, don’t respond, don’t click on any website links within the email and don’t disclose any personal or payment information. Instead, contact HMRC directly to check whether the email is genuine.
Fraudsters use a wide variety of approaches to get their hands on your money, or gain access to your bank account or personal details. One of the most popular approaches is to entice you with a tax rebate which asks you to provide bank account details so HMRC can process the tax repayment. The email or text call will promise a tax rebate, and often ask for personal information such as your name, address, date of birth, bank and credit card details – including passwords and your mother’s maiden name. If you provide the information, money can be stolen from your bank account and your details could be sold on to criminal gangs.
If you're worried you've given your payment details or money to a scammer, contact your bank or payment provider as soon as possible and explain what's happened. You should be given advice on protecting your account and help with recovering any money you've lost.