Millions of people have been warned about potential scammers impersonating the government to try to steal personal information or money
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) warns tax credit customers to beware of scams and scammers impersonating the department to steal their personal information or money.
This information comes as 2.1 million tax credit customers are expected to renew their annual entitlements by July 31, 2022.
Here we take a look at how to spot a tax credit scam.
How will scammers contact people?
The government is warning tax credit customers that they may be more vulnerable to criminals impersonating them via phone calls, text messages and emails.
These include phone calls threatening arrest if the bogus tax debt is not paid immediately.
This could be done under the guise of claiming that your social security number was used fraudulently, or failed with emails or text messages offering fake tax refunds, fake Covid-19 grants, or asking for direct debit payments.
How to spot a scam
Legitimate companies often send texts, but they wouldn’t ask for personal or payment details unless you were expected to be contacted by them.
Another important way to spot a scam is when you feel pressured into submitting personal or sensitive information and not discussing it with others.
A time limit can put pressure on you to give your details without thinking things through clearly, so it would always be a good idea to contact the organization via a number or email on their website before disclosing any information.
If a message is full of grammatical and spelling mistakes, it’s more likely to be a fake message. Delete it and be wary of similar messages that might get through.
What to do if you received a fraudulent call or message?
If you have been contacted by a potential scammer, it is important that you do not give out any personal information such as your bank details or PIN.
With phone calls, you can always hang up if you’re uncomfortable, and with text messages and emails, you can either delete or ignore them.
One of the key aspects of a scam is the sense of urgency in getting you to complete a task. So if at any time you feel rushed, you can stop the communication.
You can report suspicious calls or messages through Action Fraud or Citizens’ Advice.
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact the police, call your bank to protect your account, and contact Action Fraud for more information on next steps.
what was said
In the last 12 months to April 2022, HMRC has responded to almost 277,000 referrals to suspicious contacts received from the public.
Myrtle Lloyd, Director General of Customer Service at HMRC, said: “We urge all our customers to be really cautious if they are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or bank details.
“There are many scams out there with scammers calling, texting or emailing customers claiming to be from HMRC.
“If you have any doubts, we recommend that you do not reply directly and contact us immediately. Search GOV.UK for our ‘Fraud Checklist’ and learn how to report tax fraud.”
HMRC has also urged people to beware of misleading websites or ads designed to trick them into paying for government services that should be free.
How to renew your tax credits
Tax credit customers are not charged for the renewal of their annual claims.
To renew your tax credit visit GOV.UK or the HMRC app for real information and guidance.
Customers who choose to use the HMRC app on their smartphone can:
- renew their tax credits
- Update changes to their entitlement
- review their tax credit payment schedule and
- Find out how much they made for the year
HMRC has released a video to explain how customers with tax credits can use the HMRC app to view, manage and update their details.
If there are changes in your circumstances that could affect your tax credit entitlement, report the changes to HMRC.
Circumstances that could affect tax credit payment include changes to:
- types of housing
- working hours or
- Income (increase or decrease)
Tax credits are phasing out and will be replaced by Universal Credit by the end of 2024.
Many customers who switch from tax credits to Universal Credit could be better off financially – and can verify this with an independent performance calculator.
If you decide to apply earlier, it’s important to get independent advice beforehand, as you won’t be able to access tax credits or other benefits that Universal Credit replaces.
https://www.nationalworld.com/lifestyle/money/hmrc-scam-government-warning-tax-credits-fraud-3708165 HMRC scam: new scam alert and how to spot it