HMRC issues urgent scam alert to Britons doing part-time work – ‘be wary!’

Morning Live: What to do about common National Insurance scam

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

HMRC will be interacted with by millions of people each year in dealing with tax affairs. Usually, this has something to do with employment, and it may be necessary to deal with this in a fairly timely manner. But while the legitimate HMRC can assist Britons with their tax-related endeavours, unscrupulous scammers are exploiting the familiar name to target unsuspecting individuals. This is taking place through increasingly sophisticated scams, and anyone could fall victim. In the past year, the Revenue has stated almost one million people have reported scams, showing how the net is widening in terms of people who could potentially be attacked in this way.

Nearly half of all tax scams have offered fake tax refunds, which the legitimate HMRC will never offer individuals via text message or email. However, this kind of correspondence can sometimes mimic messages the real Government department would actually send in order to dupe individuals into thinking they are liaising with the real Revenue.

The criminals involved in these type of scams are usually trying to steal a person’s money through harvesting their bank details, which can obviously have a severely detrimental financial effect. However, some are seeking to steal personal information to sell onto others, which could result in a person being targeted by more scams.

Unfortunately, HMRC is commonly used by cybercriminals as it is a well-known name and familiar brand. Criminals can abuse the knowledge of the Revenue in attempts to add further legitimacy to their scam attempts. 

HMRC has also warned about links or files which are contained within messages a person might receive through email or text message. While these may seem innocuous enough, they do have the potential to be especially dangerous.

This is because these links can also download dangerous software onto a person’s device – whether this be their computer or phone. It can gather personal information which can be sold on, or alternatively, it could even lock a device, asking a person for a ransom to get it back.

This dangerous type of correspondence is one which many people should be on the lookout for, however, HMRC has issued a particular warning to those who are undertaking part-time work – especially students.

Many people who are taking on part-time work for the first time could be new to interacting with HMRC. For this reason, it might be harder to spot correspondence from the department which is not genuine, and thus individuals could be more vulnerable to scams.

In the last year, the issue with scams has been a particularly challenging one. HMRC has been forced to deal with a spate of reports of suspicious contact via a number of mediums.

DON’T MISS
Lloyds Bank scam warning: ‘Politeness’ could put Brits at risk [WARNING]
How your payslip could make you ‘financially resilient’ [EXCLUSIVE]
Mortgage tip could help Britons ‘offset’ National Insurance tax hike [ANALYSIS]

The Government department, between September 2020 and August 2021, has responded to 998,485 referrals of suspicious contact from the public, with nearly 440,730 of these offering bogus tax rebates.

When it came to phone scams, there were 413,527 reports of these, an increase of 92 percent on the previous year – illustrating the growing problem of tackling this kind of fraud.

A total of 12,705 malicious webpages were identified for takedown, and HMRC also detected 463 COVID-19 related financial scams since March 2020 – most occurring via text message.

Mike Fell, Head of Cyber Security Operations at HMRC, commented on the matter.

He said: “Most students won’t have paid tax before, and so could easily be duped by scam texts, emails or calls either offering a ‘refund’ or demanding unpaid tax.

“Students, who will have had little or no interaction with the tax system might be tricked into clicking on links in such emails or texts. 

“Our advice is to be wary if you are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or personal information. 

“We see high numbers of fraudsters contacting people claiming to be from HMRC. If in doubt, our advice is – do not reply directly to anything suspicious, but contact HMRC through GOV.UK straight away.”

What is happening where you live? Find out by adding your postcode or visit InYourArea

Any suspicious emails which claim to be from HMRC should be forwarded to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk, while dubious text messages can be sent to 60599.

Britons are also encouraged to reach out to Action Fraud if they find they have been a victim of a scam. The national fraud and cybercrime reporting service will take action to identify scammers and protect Britons. 

If someone has given out their personal details, they should also contact the HMRC security team, including brief details of what they disclosed – but not giving their personal information within the email.

HMRC has vowed it will never send out an email, text, WhatsApp message or phone call which tells a person about a tax rebate or penalty, or asks for personal or payment information. 

Source: Read Full Article