The rise in tax scams targeting Self Assessment customers is a concerning trend that highlights the need for increased awareness and vigilance.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in tax scams targeting individuals who are filing their Self Assessment tax returns. These scams come in various forms, including scam texts, emails, and phone calls, and are designed to trick unsuspecting customers into providing personal and financial information to fraudsters.
According to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), there were over 130,000 reports of tax scams in the 12 months leading up to September 2023. Of these, 58,000 were offering fake tax rebates, luring customers with the promise of receiving money back from the government. With around 12 million people expected to submit their Self Assessment tax returns before the 31 January 2024 deadline, fraudsters are taking advantage of the situation by impersonating HMRC.
The scams take different approaches, with some offering rebates, while others claim that customers need to update their tax details or face immediate arrest for tax evasion. These tactics play on people’s fears and vulnerabilities, making it crucial for customers to be cautious and skeptical of any unexpected contacts.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, emphasizes the importance of being vigilant during the run-up to the Self Assessment deadline. She warns that criminals are skilled at mimicking government messages through emails, phone calls, and texts to appear authentic. Lloyd advises customers to take their time and verify any suspicious communication by checking HMRC’s scams advice on the official GOV.UK website.
HMRC is actively working to protect the public from scammers. In the past year alone, they have responded to 60,000 reports of phone scams and taken down 25,000 malicious web pages. Customers are encouraged to report any suspicious communications to HMRC, as this helps the organization in their efforts to combat fraud.
It is important to note that customers do not need to wait until the January deadline to file their tax return. They can submit it earlier and only need to pay by the deadline unless they choose to pay earlier. Filing early allows customers to determine what they owe or if they are owed a refund sooner.
HMRC provides a range of online resources to assist customers in filing their tax returns. These resources include video tutorials on YouTube, help and support guidance on GOV.UK, the HMRC digital assistant, the HMRC app, community forums, and an email service for additional assistance.
In conclusion, the increase in tax scams targeting Self Assessment customers is a concerning trend. It is crucial for individuals to be aware of these scams and exercise caution when dealing with unexpected contacts regarding their tax returns. By staying vigilant and utilizing the resources provided by HMRC, customers can protect themselves from falling victim to fraudsters.