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    HMRC warns of bogus tax refund offers as scam referrals exceed 200,000

    Photo: iStock

    HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) urged people to be wary of bogus tax refund offers as the Self Assessment tax deadline has passed.

    Fraudsters could set their sights on Self Assessment customers, with more than 11.5 million submitting a tax return by last month’s deadline, the agency warned.

    Taxpayers who completed their tax return for the 2022 to 2023 tax year by the 31 January deadline might be taken in by an email, phone call or text message offering a tax rebate. These phishing scams are designed to use personal details for selling on to criminals, or to access people’s bank accounts.

    HMRC responded to 207,800 referrals from the public of suspicious contact in the past year to January – up 14 per cent from the 181,873 reported for the previous 12 months. More than 79,000 of those referrals offered bogus tax rebates.

    “With the deadline for tax returns behind us, criminals will now try to trick people with fake offers of tax rebates,” Kelly Paterson, HMRC’s chief security officer, said.

    “Scammers will attempt to dupe people by email, phone or texts that mimic government messages to make them appear authentic.

    “Don’t rush into anything, take your time and check HMRC scams advice on GOV.UK.”

    HMRC will not email, text or phone a customer to tell them that they are due a refund or ask them to request a refund. Customers receive repayments into their chosen bank account, and can see any transactions in their online HMRC account and in the HMRC app.

    Customers can help fight phishing scams by reporting any suspicious communications to HMRC:

    • forward emails to [email protected]
    • report tax scam phone calls to HMRC on GOV.UK
    • forward suspicious texts claiming to be from HMRC to 60599

    In the last year to January HMRC also reported 26,443 malicious web pages to internet service providers to be taken down. This is a 29 per cent increase from the 20,385 referred by HMRC for removal the previous year. These sites aim to deceive taxpayers and steal their personal information or money.

    They copy the design and branding of genuine websites so criminals can trick people into giving away their personal details. This information is then used to access people’s bank accounts or sold on the web.

    On Monday, the Home Office launched its national campaign ‘Stop! Think Fraud’. Backed by organisations across law enforcement, tech, banking, telecoms and the third sector, a new website was created with advice on how to stay safe online. It can be found at www.gov.uk/stopthinkfraud

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