Cifas warns against falling victim to bogus HMRC tax refund and rebate scams

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, is warning UK taxpayers not to fall victim to fraudsters as the 31 January deadline for completing self-assessment tax returns fast approaches.

Common techniques that fraudsters use to target taxpayers include e-mails and text messages offering refunds with clickable links leading to ‘phishing’ websites, and pre-recorded messages allegedly from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) claiming that action is being taken to recover unpaid tax.

HMRC has confirmed that, over the past year, it has received around 900,000 reports from members of the public about suspicious HMRC contact, with more than 100,000 of these being phone scams and over 620,000 episodes concerning bogus tax rebates.

Mike Haley: CEO at Cifas

Mike Haley: CEO at Cifas

Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas, said: “With the self-assessment tax return deadline fast approaching, it’s easy to see how fraudsters can take advantage of taxpayers rushing to pay their tax bill, and especially if they’re being threatened with legal action out of the blue.”

Haley added: “If you’re contacted by someone claiming to be from HMRC then don’t respond. Remember never to give out any personal details, download attachments or click on links. If you receive an e-mail or text then report it to HMRC immediately so they can take the appropriate action to help prevent others losing their cash to criminals.”

*If you’re unsure that the communication you’ve received from the HMRC really is legitimate you can e-mail

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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