Accountants Chester – Tax Tip No. 1
If you’re one of the 12.2 million individuals who are due to file a self-assessment tax return this year, you need to be aware of potential scams out there.
Unfortunately, numerous fraudsters out there will contact you and encourage you to send them money to avoid being sent to court or risk a larger fine. They’re often very strict and will push for the transaction to be completed in a short space of time, leaving you unable to consider the situation.
In fact, from August 2021 to August 2022, HMRC received nearly 100,000 alerts. Most, of which, were about scammers offering fake rebates in exchange for your personal and financial details.
We wanted to help you stay informed about indications that you’re being scammed:
HMRC Will Never Call and Threaten You
This is a big one. HMRC’s general order of processing begins with a letter. Then you might receive an email. It’s very unlikely that HMRC will try to call you without any previous contact attempts by mail. This is because letters can provide an extra layer of security they can refer to for confirmation that they are who they say they are.
Think About Whether They’re Rushing You
A very common scamming technique is to speak very quickly, repeat and push. This is to prevent you from taking the time to think about what they’re saying and effectively scare you into paying a fake fine or telling them your financial details. If you feel pressured by the person on the other end, know that you can request they contact you by the address or email address they have on file. Just be sure to not share any details on the phone, if they are HMRC, they already have your details!
They May Try to Offer You a Refund, Grant or Rebate
Even if it sounds as though you’re the one who’ll be receiving money, it’s a scam. HMRC won’t call trying to pay you money. To find out if you’re due a rebate, submit an end-of-year self-assessment tax form. If you are, you’ll receive a letter or be contacted by your accountant. This is just a scammer’s way to obtain your personal and financial information.
Don’t Give Your Bank Details Over the Phone
If you can’t verify you’re speaking with HMRC by using previous letters or emails you have received, end the call immediately. Giving bank details over the phone is risky and advised against when secure payment systems exist. HMRC will often contact you by mail requesting a direct debit form of payment or they’ll automatically pay the bank account they have on file.
If It’s Completely Unexpected, It Might Be Fake
As mentioned, HMRC will try to contact you via letters to your home, first. These are to make you aware of any situation HMRC is trying to contact you about including setting up your account, tax payments and rebates. So, if they call you with an automated message asking you to press 1 to speak to HMRC and you have no clue what it could be about, it’s a scammer.
Always Use the New HMRC App
In February 2022, HMRC released their new app. It’s completely free and is a useful tool to help you with your personal tax and your self-assessment tax return. As everything runs through the app, you can also use it to avoid being scammed. You can:
- View your current tax code
- Find your National Insurance (NI) number
- Estimate the tax you need to pay
- See an overview of your income and benefits
- Access your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number
- View how much self-assessment tax you owe
- Make payments to HMRC for owed tax
- Use a tax calculator to work out income tax and NI deductions
- Track forms and letters that have been sent
- Claim a tax rebate
- Update your postal address
Contact Your Accountant for Advice
Your accountant can contact HMRC on your behalf to discuss any events or queries. So, if you’ve been contacted by someone claiming to be HMRC trying to get you to pay a tax bill or to send details for a tax refund, get in touch with your accountant. They’ll confirm or deny if HMRC, themselves, have been trying to contact you and what steps you should take next.
Today’s world of technology helps us make great strides in business. But it has also opened doors for scammers to steal. Whether it’s for personal information or money, you should always be aware of scammers trying to take something.
As HMRC has seen a recent increase in the number of individuals being scammed or reporting a phishing scam, they’re requesting everyone stay alert. They’ve also issued phishing and scamming examples for you to be on the lookout for.
For more information about your yearly self-assessment tax return, scams, HMRC requests or the new HMRC app, get in contact with the team at Phillips & Co Accountants. You can reach us on 01244 220 062 and we’re always happy to help.
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