Tax office scam alert issued after 17 fraudulent cold calls in Norfolk in one morning
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People have been warned to be on guard for a tax scam after Norfolk Police received 17 reports of fraudulent cold calling.
The reports have come from across Norfolk this morning and in most cases scammers have claimed to be from HM Revenue and Customs saying the person is involved in a lawsuit and owes money.
The warning from Norfolk Police comes after an automated message pretending to be a representative from HMRC has swept the nation.
Fraudsters claiming to be from HMRC have been phoning homes across country using the official government number.
According Ebony Marcia French, 28, from Lowestoft who received a call on Wednesday, the automated message simply stated a tax investigation was underway and attempted to redirect the call to a 'officer'.
The automated message said: 'This is HM Revenue & Customs, we are calling to inform you that a Tax Fraud Case under your name is under investigation and there is currently a warrant out for your arrest. If you'd wish to speak to an officer.'
Miss French said: 'I was very confused, anxious and felt myself slipping into a panic attack.
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'I don't usually answer calls from numbers I don't recognise but was expecting a call already so I answered. It was very worrying,' she said.
The mother then contacted the HMRC office about the call who reassured her it was a scam.
She said: 'They sounded surprised when I said the call used the same number as theirs and assured me that they would never contact people in that way.'
An HMRC spokesman office said: 'HMRC takes security extremely seriously. We are aware that some people have received telephone calls from individuals claiming to be from HMRC. We have a well-known brand, which criminals abuse to add credibility to their scams.
'These scams often involve people receiving a call out of the blue and being told that HMRC is investigating them. If you can't verify the identity of the caller, we recommend that you do not speak to them.'
According to HMRC office, the scammers were 'spoofing' their number in an attempt to deceive members of the public.
In the past year, the HMRC intercepted more than 20,000 malicious websites run by online crooks, an increase of 29pc in 2017.
HMRC warned they would never contact people out of the blue and ask for their PIN, password or bank details.
HMRC has issued this advice:
*Recognise the signs - genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.
*Stay safe - don't give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren't expecting.
*Take action - forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to firstname.lastname@example.org and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use their online fraud reporting tool.
*Check GOV.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact.
*If you think you have received an HMRC related phishing/bogus email or text message, you can check it against the examples shown in this guide.
Have you been deceived by one of these calls? Contact Greta.Levy@Archant.co.uk