Alert issued over tax scam
Members of the public are being warned not to fall victim to a scam purporting to be from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Action Fraud, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, said there has been an increase in the reporting of malicious calls and voicemails where the fraudsters are spoofing genuine HMRC telephone numbers to deceive their victims over the phone.
The fraudsters state that as a result of the victim's non-payment of tax or other duty, the victim is liable for prosecution or other legal proceedings in order to settle the balance.
They then suggest victims can avoid this by arranging immediate payment by methods such as bank transfer or by purchasing iTunes gift card, failing which, the suspect makes a threat such as immediate arrest, sending bailiffs to the victim's address or, in some cases, deportation.
Often, the period for which the tax is allegedly due is distant enough to guarantee the victim will have little, if any, paperwork or ability to verify the claims.
Once the money is paid, the suspects sever all contact with the victim.
In genuine cases, HMRC will initially make direct contact with its customers via post and potentially follow up with a phone call at a later date.
If a telephone call is made, they will quote the reference number on the initial letter received and they will not discuss the details of a tax investigation and will not demand immediate payment.
In view of this, Action Fraud has offered the following advice on protecting yourself from such scams.
Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information. Just because someone knows your basic details, it doesn't mean they are genuine.
Legitimate organisations wouldn't ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using an iTunes gift card, or any other type of voucher.
Don't be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Under no circumstances would a genuine bank or some other trusted organisation force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.
If you have received a call, text or email of this nature and have not lost money, you can report this as phishing to Action Fraud.