HMRC has issued a warning about a growing type of tax fraud. The scams are being operated by income tax fraudsters targeting Government Gateway accounts and other personal details.
Individuals use Government Gateway login details to access a wide range of HMRC services. Most commonly, people log in to complete their Self-Assessment Tax Returns and pay any tax they owe.
How the income tax fraudsters operate
According to HMRC, the income tax fraudsters typically target social media users. The scammers lure in people by promising to secure a tax refund on their behalf. In return, they promise to pay over a proportion of the money to the individual.
However, in order to apply for the ‘tax refund’, the criminals ask to ‘borrow’ social media users’ identities. They will then ask their victims for their Government Gateway log in details. Some will also ask for other personal information, such as details of a person’s bank account, passport, driving licence, National Insurance number, address and date of birth.
How the fraud is committed
Once an unfortunate person has handed over their personal details, the scammers use them to log in to the Government Gateway. They then submit a fraudulent tax refund claim and pocket the whole repayment, leaving the victim high and dry.
The scam doesn’t necessarily stop there
The more personal information someone hands over to the scammers, the more opportunities they have to commit fraud. It’s quite possible for the fraudsters to take out loans and credit cards in another person’s name, not to mention running up other debts. Giving criminals your personal information also opens you up to possible threats and blackmail.
What happens if I’m scammed by the income tax fraudsters?
If a fraudster successfully claims a tax refund on your behalf, you risk having to pay back the full amount – even though you won’t have seen a penny of it. If you think you have been scammed, or you believe someone is trying to involve you in an income tax refund scam, you should report it here.
How to keep safe from the fraudsters
First of all, never give any of your personal information away, no matter how tempting it may be. If an unknown person or organisation says they can get you a tax refund, ignore them. If you think you are due a tax refund, deal directly with HMRC or talk to your accountant.
Keep a close eye on your credit record
In addition to keeping your personal information safe and secure, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your credit record. If you do, you can quickly spot unusual or fraudulent activity. If fraudsters attempt or succeed to secure credit in your name, you’ll be able to act quickly. In the UK there are three main credit reference agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You can check your personal credit record with all three without damaging your credit score.
Last but not least, if you have any questions about tax refunds and how they work, please do talk to your account manager at THP. They’d be delighted to answer any questions you may have.
About Jon Pryse-Jones
Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.
An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”
Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board. “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says. He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.