With reports of rises in HMRC scams in the build up to deadlines, as well as an increase in people receiving calls claiming they have outstanding tax penalties, we have outlined how to spot fraudulent calls and scam messages, as well as how to handle them.

How will HMRC contact me?

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will never ask for your bank account details, personal information or send you notifications by email or text for:

  • tax rebates
  • refunds
  • personal or payment information

If you do receive an email claiming to be from HMRC promising any of the above, do not respond, do not click on any links within the email and do not disclose any personal information. Instead, contact HMRC directly to check whether the email is genuine.

Note: HMRC does sometimes call people about outstanding tax bills. They also sometimes use automated messages. But if they do so, they will always include your taxpayer reference number.

You can forward suspicious text messages to 60599.

Tax rebate or refund scams

One of the most common scams is to promise you a tax rebate. This 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 asks for personal information. This can include your name, address, date of birth, bank and credit card details – including passwords and your mother’s maiden name.

If you provide the information, fraudsters can steal money from your bank account and sell your details to criminal gangs.

Tempting as the sound of a rebate may be, HMRC will never ask for your bank account details via text or email, so don’t respond.

Tax email phishing scams

Tax phishing emails claiming to be from HMRC are particularly common around key tax deadlines.

These scam emails can not only look official but can also look as though they have come from official government email addresses. This makes them even more difficult to spot.

The main aim of these emails is to:

– steal money from your bank account

– persuade you to send money

– or get enough personal information to sell on to other criminals who perform identity theft

If you want to check the legitimacy of an email, read HMRC’s phishing email guide. This explains how to recognise a phishing attempt from genuine contact.

Tax scam text messages

We’ve found that by far one of the most common types of messaging scam is fake notifications from HMRC.

Scammers use number spoofing to make your phone display ‘HMRC’ as the sender, instead of a phone number.

The warning in the messages can vary, but some of the reported scams are:

  • That you’re owed a tax refund with a link to put in your details to receive it, or
  • There’s a warrant out for your arrest because you owe the HMRC money.

Links in these messages send you to websites that harvest your personal information.

HMRC will sometimes send text messages, but will never ask for personal or financial information. HMRC has also confirmed it never contacts customers who are due a tax refund by text message or by email.

If you get a text message claiming to be from HMRC offering a ‘tax refund’ in exchange for personal or financial details, don’t reply and never open any links in the message.

How to report HMRC tax scams

If you get a voicemail or message which worries you or you think might be a scam, you should report it so no one else falls victim to it and it can be investigated.

You can forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and texts to 60599.

Or you can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use their online fraud reporting tool.