HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has warned businesses to watch out for tax scams ahead of the 31 January Self Assessment Deadline.
It comes after the tax office responded to thousands of reports of bogus emails, text messages and phone calls with offers of tax “rebates” and “refunds” over the last 12 months.
According to the figures, HMRC received more than 846,000 referrals of suspicious contact from the public and 15,500 referrals of malicious web pages in the year to November. Around 500,000 of these offered “bogus tax rebates”.
The regulator said fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated methods and language to persuade unsuspecting victims to hand over personal information – such as bank details – to claim the “refund”.
Commenting on the report, HMRC’s Interim Director General for Customer Services, Karl Khan, said: “We know that criminals take advantage of the Self Assessment deadline to panic customers into sharing their personal or financial details and even paying bogus ‘tax due’.”
“If someone calls, emails or texts claiming to be from HMRC, offering financial help or asking for money, it might be a scam. Please take a moment to think before parting with any private information or money.”
Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, added: “It’s important to remember if you’re contacted out the blue by someone purporting to be from HMRC asking for your personal or financial details, or offering you a tax rebate, grant or refund, this could be a scam.”
The warning comes as approximately 12.1 million taxpayers prepare to file and pay tax ahead of the 31 January Self Assessment deadline.