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Scammers target tax deadline

Tax specialists at a Shropshire accountancy firm have warned of an increase in criminal activity in the run-up to the self-assessment deadline of January 31.

Dyke Yaxley’s Tax Manager, Martyn Bramwell, said there had been a noticeable rise in fraudulent emails and phone calls which claimed to be from HM Revenue and Customs, with even more cropping up this week just days ahead of the filling date.

“Scammers are using increasingly sophisticated methods to try to extract money from taxpayers using email, text and telephone communications. These communications often look and sound very convincing, and they can sometimes be threatening, but HMRC would never ask for payment details or bank account information in any of their written messages.”

Martyn said he had received one of the fraudulent telephone calls himself, asking for money to be transferred into a new bank account and threatening him with arrest if he did not pay the fictitious tax they were asking for.

“I know full well from personal experience how intimidating these calls can be, and even more so for elderly or vulnerable taxpayers. HMRC are aware that scams like this are on the increase, and you can report fraudulent activity on their website, but unfortunately, at Dyke Yaxley we are aware of a number of people who have been preyed upon by the scammers and lost large sums of money.”

Martyn said the would-be criminals knew that many people were fearful of HMRC’s powers and they were using this threat as a way of extracting private bank account information from people who had yet to file their tax returns.

“HMRC only ever send letters about taxpayer specific information and never emails – but many people are not aware of this and accept the emails they receive (which often use the same font and logos as official communications) in good faith.

“If you are in any doubt, speak to your accountant who can quickly and easily confirm whether you actually owe any money, and who can advise you how to settle any outstanding liabilities. Never give out any personal information or click on any email links if you are not expecting such correspondence from HMRC – it pays to be overly cautious until you can verify whether the communication is valid or a potential scam.”


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