Self Assessment tax return: HMRC issues warning as scammers step up efforts near deadline

The Self Assessment tax return must be filed by midnight on January 31, 2021, leaving just days for Britons to act. The system is used by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to collect Income Tax from eligible people, and is a vital date in the calendar year. However, scammers are now taking advantage of the rush to file in attempts to financially exploit Britons. 

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has issued a warning alongside HMRC, informing people of the scams currently circulating when it comes to Self Assessment. 

Several members of the ICAEW have reported their clients have received scam emails, claiming to be from accountants.

These emails have informed individuals HMRC had changed its bank details, asking for money to be transferred to a different account.

Within the correspondence, bank details were included so money could be ‘easily’ transferred.

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She said: “Opportunistic fraudsters are using the looming tax deadline to trick people into transferring money, so it’s important that you are vigilant and act with caution.

“Do not give out personal information, download attachments or click on links in unexpected text messages or emails.

“Visit the HMRC website for advice on how to report suspicious calls or messages.

“If you think you’ve been a victim of a scam and have suffered lost money, report it to Action Fraud.”

Action Fraud has added to the warnings issued ahead of the deadline to ensure Britons are protected.

It has urged people to beware of fraudsters posing as HMRC through texts, emails or phone calls.

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There are a number of warning signs which can help Britons to identify a scam.

If an email, text or phone call is unexpected, threatening or asks a person to act quickly, this is usually a sign of a scam.

Messages which ask for personal or financial information, or tell a person to transfer money may also be fraudulent.

Finally, a message which offers a refund, tax rebate or grant should always be treated with caution. 

Mike Fell, HMRC Head of Cyber Operations, also provided insight ahead of the deadline.

He added: “Criminals text, email or phone taxpayers offering spurious tax refunds or threatening them with arrest if they don’t immediately pay fictions tax owed.

“HMRC is a well-known brand, which criminals abuse to add credibility to their scams.

“If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you are due a tax refund or owe tax, or asks for bank or other personal details, it might be a scam.”



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