HMRC warns taxpayers about bogus callers

Date: 5 March 2019

Serious businesswoman talking on phone

Taxpayers with a landline number should be vigilant of phone calls from fraudsters pretending to be the tax authority.

Criminals are increasingly using publicly available phone numbers to steal money from taxpayers. HMRC has revealed that it received more than 60,000 reports of phone scams in the six months to January 2019, an increase of 360% compared to the six months before.

According to Ofcom, nearly 26 million homes have a landline; many of these could be at risk from scams, especially if they are not ex-directory. Phone scams often target the elderly and vulnerable but everyone needs to be vigilant about fraudulent calls.

Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: "We have taken major steps to crack down on text and email phishing scams leaving fraudsters no choice but to try and con taxpayers over the phone.

"If you receive a suspicious call to your landline from someone purporting to be from HMRC which threatens legal action, to put you in jail, or payment using vouchers: hang-up and report it to HMRC who can work to take them off the network."

Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said: "Fraudsters will call your landline claiming to be from reputable organisations such as HMRC. Contact like this is designed to convince you to hand over valuable personal details or your money.

"Don't assume anyone who calls you is who they say they are. If a person calls and asks you to make a payment, log in to an online account or offers you a deal, be cautious and seek advice."

HMRC says it will only ever call taxpayers asking for payment on a debt if they are already aware of it. During the past 12 months, HMRC has worked with the phone networks and Ofcom to close nearly 450 lines being used by fraudsters.

There is more information on how to avoid and report scams on the government website.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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