/ Scams

Self Assessment tax returns: scammers posing as HMRC

With the deadline for self assessment tax filing approaching on 31 January 2021, HMRC has issued a scam warning. Here’s what you need to be wary of.

With many small businesses and the self-employed heavily impacted during the pandemic, HMRC has issued a warning about scammers posing as the department.

It’s said that 846,000 suspicious communications have been referred to them in the past 12 months. Nearly 500,000 of these were related to members of the public being offered bogus tax refunds. 

We’ve seen a number of these examples here on Which? Conversation this year.

As a Premier Account Manager at Which? Trusted Traders, I’d like to ensure that all our traders are well aware of the dangers these scams can pose.

It’s not just cash they’re after…

Typically when you think of fraud, losing cash directly springs to mind, but many scammers posing as HMRC are also after your personal information, which can then later lead to your bank accounts being compromised.

This can then facilitate the opening of fraudulent credit accounts or selling personal details on to criminal gangs.

For example, Which? recently spoke with a self employed woman who had a tax refund of £7,000 fraudulently claimed in her name after scammers filed a bogus claim using her details obtained from a malicious communication

It’s best to take any communication offering unexpected money with a healthy dose of caution. 

As always, check over any communication regarding your tax return carefully, and refer to our guide on how to spot HMRC phone, text and email scams.

If you think you may have given personal details to scammers, alert your bank immediately. We also have a guide on how you can get your money back.

Sound too good to be true?

It’s an old cliche, but a valid one: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Scammers will no doubt continue to target self assessment tax filers increasingly as the deadline approaches in January.

You can report them to HMRC by forwarding copies to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and texts to 60599. 

Knowing what to look out for and examples of malicious communications can help us all avoid the devastating impacts. If a message from ‘HMRC’ does not seem right or an unsolicited call gives you a bad gut feeling, listen to your instincts and do some in-depth research into who is at the other end. 

Have you received suspicious communications claiming to be from HMRC? How did you deal with it?

Let us know in the comments and help prevent others becoming the next victim.

Maureen Dyson says:
3 April 2021

I’ve been having phone calls saying I owe a lot of tax and I’m going to be arrested so frightening.i no I dont at all. Also some phone calls are saying I owe 2 500 on a loan

Richard Tatton says:
20 April 2021

I have received a number of emails claiming to be from HMRC with either offers of a refund of overpaid tax or threatening legal action if I did not pay unpaid tax in a number of days. All with links which did not look 100% right. Also with a suspicious sender’s email address – gmail or hotmail etc. I always delete with no further thought.
Any excess paid tax will be clear after I submit my self assessment form. Any legal action HMRC takes would not start with an email like the fraudsters send.