Tax scams to be aware of

A ’popular’ tax scam appears to be doing the rounds again after a York businessman contacted his local newspaper following a call with a woman who appeared to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

The man got home to find a message on his home answering service saying he had been called by HMRC and should call them back. When he did, a woman answered and said that he owed the taxman money, so should pay it to avoid bailiffs being involved.

She tried to get further personal information from him, such as his National Insurance number, but he had the presence of mind to ask her to give him his personal tax reference number. She refused and eventually hung up.

The man then contacted his local paper who asked a source at HMRC for their response and the contact confirmed that the taxman would never operate automated messaged of this nature.

The spokesman went on to say that the agency is aware that some customers have received telephone calls claiming to be from HMRC requesting personal information and bank account details in order to receive a tax refund, or demanding money for an unpaid tax bill. He added that taxpayers should remain alert.

Another ‘favourite’ hoax is where the caller leaves a message saying that tax is due and that if it is not paid, there could be a warrant issued for the individual’s arrest. The caller then urges the individual to pay the ‘bill’ by instant bank transfer, or HMRC would close the account and take the cash out direct.

Apparently, this form of the scam has netted criminals several million pounds through intimidating people who pay online out of fear. Again, HMRC has stressed that they would never operate in this way, so anyone called in this way should report the telephone number they have been asked to call.

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