The new tax refund scam

Make sure you don't get caught out as HM Revenue & Customs warns taxpayers against the taxman scam.

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If you’ve never heard of the Taxman Scam, it’s time you caught up. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is warning us all to beware of fraudsters who are posing as the taxman in a bid to get their hands on our current accounts.

How does the Taxman Scam work?

The scam is actually fairly unsophisticated and based on winning your confidence. The perpetrators simply contact you, as a taxpayer, by phone and convince you that you’re due a tax rebate. To claim your refund, you’re asked to provide your bank details and personal information during the conversation. But, of course, instead of receiving a bit of cash back from the revenue, your bank account is emptied and your personal data sold on to other criminal organisations.

The Taxman Scam by email

But it’s not only dodgy phone calls you need to wary of. Recently, there has been a surge in the number of tax scam phishing emails which have been reported to HMRC.

Phishing emails are hoaxes which attempt to wheedle out your bank details and personal security data. In this instance, the sender will claim to be from HMRC and again asks you to verify your current account details by clicking on a link so that you can reclaim your tax rebate.

But this link actually takes you through to a fake website which may look exactly like HMRC’s own site. Once you have typed in your account details they’re instantly made available to the scammers who set the fake HMRC site up.

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In the last three months alone, the revenue has shut down over 180 bogus websites that were shown to be responsible for sending out the fake tax rebate emails. This is an encouraging step forward, but the prevalence of this online scam is becoming a huge concern.

How do you know if you’re being targeted by a taxman scam?

Thankfully, there’s one very easy way to tell if you’ve been contacted by a fraudster. HMRC never contacts taxpayers about tax refunds by phone. Nor will it make contact by email or use external companies to get in touch with you.

You will only ever receive correspondence about rebates you’re entitled to in writing by post. So, you’ll know something fishy is going on if the person at the other end of the line says they are the taxman.

If you are unlucky enough to be the recipient of a bogus phone call, don’t give any of your personal data or bank details to the caller. Instead, report the call immediately to the police.

If a phishy email pops up in your inbox, rather than a phone call, make sure you forward it onto HMRC at where it can be properly investigated. Once you have done that delete it permanently. Don’t click on any links contained in the email or complete an online form to claim the rebate.

Here’s a list of some of the email addresses commonly use to circulate this scam (and other tax scams):

Remember none of these addresses are legitimate.

Other taxman scams

Unfortunately, the tax rebate fraud is not the only taxman scam you should be on your guard against. There are plenty of others such as the Notice of Underreported Income email scam or the National Insurance Contributions email scam. You should check out these scam examples on HMRC’s website and familiarise yourself with them to reduce the risk of getting caught out.

Don’t forget, no matter how genuine or official emails purporting to be from HMRC might seem, there’s a good chance they may be fake.

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