HMRC warning as fraudsters seek to hijack personal tax accounts

Figures showed 719 cases of online shopping or auction fraud were recorded against Suffolk based victims ince January...

HMRC has issued a fraud warning - Credit: PA

People in Suffolk are being warned not to share sensitive personal information online to avoid their identities being used to commit tax fraud. 

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said it is aware that criminals are attempting to obtain customers’ Government Gateway logins and other personal details, enabling them to register for income tax self assessment and submit bogus tax refund claims before pocketing the repayment.

Individuals, ranging from teenagers to pensioners, are being targeted on social media platforms by fraudsters seeking to ‘borrow’ their identities. In return, the individual is promised a cut of the tax refund ‘risk-free’.

Handing over sensitive personal information to criminals like this, even inadvertently, risks individuals involving themselves in tax fraud, and having to pay back the full value of the fraudulent claim.

Customers should therefore only deal with HMRC directly or through their tax advisor in relation to their Self Assessment tax refunds.

Latest rolling statistics from Action Fraud revealed that 4,369 reports of fraud and cyber crime have been made in Suffolk during the past 13 months, with an estimated loss of £17.4million. 

Simon Cubitt, head of cybercrime at HMRC, said: "People need to think extremely carefully before they involve themselves in an arrangement like this, because if something looks too good to be true, then it almost certainly is.

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"Those who get involved risk becoming the victim of blackmail, threats of violence and wider abuse of their personal information, as criminals seek to exploit them further.

"I urge anyone who may be aware of these dishonest attempts to recruit individuals into criminality, to report it us by searching ‘Report Fraud HMRC’ on GOV.UK and completing our online form."