Rise in phone scams prompts taxpayer warning

Suffolk taxpayers risk having their bank accounts emptied by phone scammers pretending to be the taxman.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has urged taxpayers in the region to be vigilant following a recent surge in reported tax scam “phishing” emails.

Last October, an unprecedented 10,000 reports of phishing scams were made to HMRC on one day alone.

The fraudsters inform taxpayers they are due a tax rebate and ask for their bank card details over the phone.

They then attempt to take money from the account using the details provided.

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Victims risk having their bank accounts emptied and their personal details sold on to other organised criminal gangs.

In the last three months, HMRC has shut down more than 180 websites responsible for sending out the fake tax rebate emails, which often begin with a sentence such as “we have reviewed your tax return and our calculations of your last year’s accounts show a tax refund of XXXX is due.”

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Chris Hopson, director of customer contact at HMRC, said: “We only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post.

“We never use telephone calls, emails or external companies in these circumstances.

“We strongly urge anyone receiving such a phone call not to give any information to the caller, but report it to the police straightaway.

“If customers receive an email claiming to be from HMRC, we recommend they send it to us for investigation before deleting it permanently.”

If you have reason to believe that you have been the victim of an email scam, report the matter to your bank/card issuer as soon as possible. If in doubt please check with HMRC at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/fraud-attempts.htm

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