Warning after scam calls from fraudsters pretending to be the taxman

HMRC is warning landline users of scam calls. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

HMRC is warning landline users of scam calls. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have issued a warning about a scam where callers pretend to be the taxman.

Households with a landline number should be vigilant of phone calls from fraudsters.

As HMRC has cracked down on email and SMS phishing, a rising number of criminals are turning to the traditional method of cold-calling publicly available phone numbers to steal money from taxpayers.

According to Ofcom, nearly 26 million homes have a landline. Phone scams often target the elderly and vulnerable using HMRC's brand to add credibility to a fraudster's call.

Financial secretary to the treasury, Mel Stride, 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.

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'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.'

HMRC received more than 60,000 reports of phone scams in six months up to January 2019. This is an increase of 360pc compared to the six months before this.

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Head of action fraud, Pauline Smith, said: '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 make contact for a payment on a debt that you are already aware of, after receiving a letter about it.

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.

For more information go to www.gov.uk/hmrc

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