People claiming tax credits are being warned to watch out for scam messages claiming to be from the taxman.
Tax credits help working families with targeted financial support and people have until July 31 to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of any change in circumstances that could affect their claims.
But anyone doing their tax credits renewal who has received a tax or benefits scam email or text might be tricked into thinking it was from HMRC and share their personal details with the criminals, or transfer money to them.
HMRC said that in the 12 months to the end of April it responded to more than 1,154,300 referrals from the public of suspect contact. More than 576,960 of these offered bogus tax rebates.
In the same period, HMRC worked with telecoms companies and Ofcom to remove more than 3,000 malicious telephone numbers, and with internet service providers to take down over 15,700 web pages. It responded to 443,033 reports of phone scams in total – 135% up on the previous year.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said: “We’re urging all of our customers to be really careful if they are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or bank details.
“There are a lot of scams out there where fraudsters are calling, texting or emailing customers claiming to be from HMRC. If you have any doubts, we suggest you don’t reply directly, and contact us yourself straight away. Search gov.uk for our scams checklist and to find out how to report tax scams.”
HMRC recommends that people should not speak to a caller if they cannot verify their identity.
People can log into gov.uk to check on the progress of their tax credits renewal, be reassured it is being processed and know when they will hear back from HMRC. Customers can also use the HMRC app on their smartphone to renew their tax credits.
HMRC said people do not need to report any temporary falls in their working hours as a result of coronavirus. They will be treated as if they are working their normal hours until the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme closes.