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Taxpayer beware: HMRC warns over tax refund scams

HMRC recently issued a warning over the latest tax refund scam to affect taxpayers.

Fraudsters are currently using emails and SMS messages to target individuals by promising them a tax rebate and tricking them into disclosing their personal and banking details. However, HMRC has confirmed that it will only ever inform taxpayers of any tax refunds by post or through the employer’s payroll. Any emails, text messages or voicemail messages you receive informing you of a refund are fraudulent, and should be reported.

Staying vigilant

HMRC has warned that many of these emails and texts contain links to websites that steal personal information, and has advised individuals not to reply to such messages, click on any links or download any attachments.

Criminals are known to take advantage of important events in HMRC’s calendar, such as the end of the financial year, an approaching self assessment deadline and the issuing of tax refunds to start sending out phishing emails and texts.

HMRC is currently processing tax refunds for tax returns covering the period 6 April 2017 to 5 April 2018. If a genuine tax refund is due, a letter showing your tax calculation and details on how to get your refund will be sent by post between the months of June and October. If you have not paid enough tax, HMRC will again send details of your tax calculations and instructions on how to make this payment in a letter by post. This can take the form of a P800 or a Simple Assessment letter.

Dealing with a scam

Guidance on how to deal with tax refund scams has been issued by HMRC, advising customers to:

  • Recognise the signs – genuine organisations will never ask you for your PIN, password or bank details
  • Stay safe – do not follow any links or download any attachments. Never give out your personal details or reply to any messages you were not expecting
  • Take action – forward any suspicious emails to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and questionable texts to 60599.

Additional information on recognising and reporting a scam can be found on the gov.uk website.