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Cifas warns against criminals duping taxpayers as self-assessment deadline approaches

7 January 2021
  • Cifas warns UK taxpayers to be wary of HMRC scams as the deadline for self-assessments approaches

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, is warning UK taxpayers to be vigilant of scams as the 31 January deadline for self-assessment tax returns approaches. On top of scammers taking advantage of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic throughout 2020, HMRC received more than 846,000 reports of suspicious communications impersonating them in the 12 months leading up to November 2020. This includes over 300,000 suspicious phone calls – a 47% increase from the previous 12 month period.

Criminals will often attempt to dupe unsuspecting victims by impersonating HMRC over the phone, by email and on the internet. They entice their victims by either offering them a benefit, such as a fake grant or refund, or panic the victim by telling them they need to make additional payments. These attempts are often made with the intention of leading victims to ‘phishing’ websites which collect both personal and banking details to be used in identity fraud.

Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas, said: ‘As the deadline for self-assessment tax returns approaches, criminals will look to dupe taxpayers, many of which may already be struggling due to the economic impacts of the pandemic. Fraudsters will go to great lengths to put pressure on taxpayers including threatening legal action or sending in bailiffs, and this is designed to panic victims into making hasty decisions.

‘Remember that HMRC will never ask you to provide personal or financial details, download attachments or click on links in emails or texts. If you do receive a suspicious communication from HMRC, then report it to them straight away, even if you have not clicked on any links or provided any information.’

If you’re unsure the email you’ve received from HMRC is legitimate, you can email phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and forward any suspicious texts to 60599. If you have fallen victim for a scam, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud.

About Cifas

Cifas is an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation that protects businesses and individuals through effective and secure data and intelligence sharing between the private, public and third sectors. In 2019, Cifas member organisations prevented over £1.5 billion of fraud losses.

Cifas data is included in the Office of National Statistics England and Wales Crime Statistics of police recorded crime and works alongside law enforcement agencies in tackling fraud.

For more information, please contact:
Matt Pearson
Press and Public Relations Manager
matthew.pearson@cifas.org.uk
(+44) 0203 004 3644

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Posted by: Cifas Press Team
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Posted by: Cifas Press Team

Contact us at press@cifas.org.uk

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