The self-assessment tax return deadline is less than a week away and as people frantically file their last minute-returns, some fraudsters are looking to take advantage.
HMRC has announced a rise in the number of scam text messages, allegedly sent by the Revenue to unsuspecting members of the public. They contain a number of false claims, but more commonly they relate to tax rebates, accompanied by a link that promises to send customers in the right direction for their claim.
However, instead of the genuine article, these links are often directed to websites that can scrape all sorts of personal information. They can also contain malware that is downloaded onto a PC or laptop, causing viruses or worse, allow fraudsters to watch you online. They can see any websites you look at and any information you enter, including your date of birth, passwords or bank details.
All this information is harvested and is used to commit identity fraud. Once this information has fallen into the wrong hands it can be used to create fraudulent bank accounts or passports – it can even be used in the theft of your personal savings.
HMRC issued a press release this morning as part of Take Five to Stop Fraud Week announcing the news that they have successfully stopped around 90% of fraudulent text messages before they reach the recipient.
It states: “people are 9 times more likely to fall for text message scams than other forms like email, because they can appear more legitimate.” This has been successfully tackled using new technology that identified fraud texts with tags, which define whether they suggest they are coming from HMRC and stops them from being delivered.
Whilst there has been a five-fold reduction in malicious text message reports from the Revenue, it is still important to raise awareness of the tell-tale signs of fraud. HMRC has said that it will never contact customers who are due a tax refund by email or text message under any circumstances. If you receive one, it is likely to be a scam and you should not action anything contained within the messages, including clicking links or calling any phone numbers.
If you would like any further information or you have any questions relating to the above, contact Wilkins Kennedy to see how we can help.