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Self-assessment scam warning

Wednesday 20 January 2021: Scammers posing as HMRC are using the 31 January tax self-assessment deadline to try to defraud people, chartered accountancy body ICAEW has warned.

ICAEW is warning people not to fall victim to these scams, and to check that any emails, phone calls or text messages they receive are genuine.

ICAEW members have reported their clients receiving scam emails which claim to be from accountants. The scam emails said that HMRC had changed its bank details, and asked for money to be transferred to a different account. Fraudsters also included bank details in the emails so money could be transferred.

HMRC has published a checklist which can help people identify whether a phone call, email or text message is genuine. They may be fraudulent if they:

  • are unexpected 
  • offer a refund, tax rebate or grant
  • ask for personal information, such as bank details
  • are threatening
  • tell you to transfer money
  • Are misspelled or from an email address that looks wrong.

HMRC will never contact you directly asking you to pay money into a bank account.  

Anita Monteith, ICAEW Tax Policy Manager, said: “Opportunistic fraudsters are using the looming tax deadline to trick people into transferring money, so it’s important that you are vigilant and act with caution.

“Do not give out personal information, download attachments or click on links in unexpected text messages or emails. 

“Visit the HMRC website for advice on how to report suspicious calls or messages, and if you think you’ve been a victim of a scam and have suffered lost money, report it to Action Fraud.

Mike Fell, HMRC Head of Cyber Operations, said: “Criminals text, email or phone taxpayers offering spurious tax refunds or threatening them with arrest if they don’t immediately pay fictitious tax owed.   

“HMRC is a well-known brand, which criminals abuse to add credibility to their scams."

“If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you are due a tax refund or owe tax, or asks for bank or other personal details, it might be a scam. Check GOVUK for our scams checklist and to report tax scams.”

HMRC is also warning people to be aware of websites that charge for government services – such as call connection sites – that are in fact free or charged at local call rates. Other companies charge people for help getting ‘tax refunds’. One way to safely claim a tax refund for free is to log into a Personal Tax Account.

Notes to editors

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