Government warns ‘be vigilant’ after rise in scam calls

People are being urged to stay vigilant of bogus phone calls pretending to be the taxman after a rise in the number of criminals targeting landlines.

Saturday, 2nd March 2019, 10:07 am
Updated Saturday, 2nd March 2019, 10:12 am
HMRC say scam calls to landlines are on the rise
HMRC say scam calls to landlines are on the rise

HM Revenue and Customs are cracking down on fraudsters who cold-call publically available phone numbers to steal money from taxpayers.

Nearly 26 million homes could be at risk from such scams, Ofcom have warned.

Elderly and vulnerable people are often targeted by the fraudsters who pretend to work for HMRC.

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There were more than 60,000 reports of phone scams in six months up to January 2019 - an increase of 360 percent compared to the previous six months.

Mel Stride MP, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: “We have taken major steps to crackdown on text and email phishing scams leaving fraudsters no choice but to try and con taxpayers over the phone.

“If you receive a suspicious call to your landline from someone purporting to be from HMRC which threatens legal action, to put you in jail, or payment using vouchers: hang-up and report it to HMRC who can work to take them off the network.”

Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said: “Fraudsters will call your landline claiming to be from reputable organisations such as HMRC. Contact like this is designed to convince you to hand over valuable personal details or your money.

“Don’t assume anyone who calls you is who they say they are. If a person calls and asks you to make a payment, log in to an online account or offers you a deal, be cautious and seek advice.”

The tax authority will only ever call you asking for payment on a debt that you are already aware of, either having received a letter about it, or after you’ve told us you owe some tax, for example through a Self-Assessment return.

During the last 12 months, HMRC has worked with the phone networks and Ofcom to close nearly 450 lines being used by fraudsters using boiler room tactics to steal money.

If anyone is ever in doubt about who they are speaking to, HMRC advises you end the call and contact the department using one of the numbers or online services available from GOV.UK