Shield Yourself Against the Growing Threat of Self Assessment Tax Scams
Worryingly, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) received almost 900,000 reports of suspicious contact regarding tax in the last year. For anybody that completes a self assessment tax return each year, this should serve as a stark warning.
The upcoming deadline for self-assessments just around the corner. With scams on the rise, it’s important to safeguard yourself in the run up. Read on to learn about the tactics used by scammers and how to report one if they do come knocking.
Scam artists show no sign of stopping
Of the 900,000 reports of suspicious contact regarding tax in the last year, more than 100,000 of these were phone scams. Around 620,000 reports involved bogus tax rebates.
Unfortunately, things are only going to get worse. It’s common for scam calls to grow in the second half of the year. MoneySavingExpert.com claims that in the run-up to 2019’s deadline, scam call reports rocketed by 360%.
In recent years there’s also been a growing number of scams that are conducted via WhatsApp or other social media platforms. So, the channels used by scammers are widening, with the tactics used constantly evolving.
What to expect from scammers
Plenty of people have shared their stories of run-ins with scammers. From hundreds to thousands of pounds, many have found themselves pressured into giving their details to scammers that mask themselves as HMRC.
Common stories included victims being called up and told they’re to pay for debts that they didn’t previously know about. Scammers have been known to threaten the person or business with extreme legal action. Some have even reported that they were told the police were minutes from arresting them or that their passport was about to be frozen.
From cases like this, HMRC have learned how to spot if you’re being targeted…
How to spot and avoid self assessment scams
HMRC’s tips on how to spot and avoid being scammed when it comes to self-assessment tax are clear cut. Spotting the signs of a possible scam are key to steering clear of falling victim.
- Asking for Information – Organisations that are official will never ask for details such as PIN number, passwords for account access or sensitive bank details that would be used for payments and trading.
- Clicking & Downloading – When it comes to emails and texts, recipients shouldn’t click any links or download any attachments if they don’t know what the message is referring to.
- Instant Payments – A general rule of thumb is that if any individual or business is asked to instantly pay for a debt that wasn’t previously known about, great caution should be taken.
- Compare Communication – Action can also be taken by comparing sample emails and texts from HMRC on the GOV.UK website to ones that the recipient receives.
Anyone affected by scams or believe they are being targeted are urged to take action. This can be done by forwarding details of suspicious calls or emails claiming to email@example.com and texts to 60599.
Talk to a self assessment expert
Self assessments can be a stressful and complicated procedure. The last thing you need is the threat of scams artists. Fortunately, there is an easy solution. Why not entrust the legwork with an organisation that can help make the process easier and smoother?
Based in Leeds, UWM Accountants have over 30 years of experience helping UK businesses with self-assessments. Whether you’re a self-employed earner or a company director, we can ensure otherwise time-consuming tax affairs are handled with no stress and no penalties.
For more information, contact us today on 0113 231 0202. We look forward to hearing from you.