How to avoid a HMRC tax rebate scam – emails, texts and calls
Published 5 March 2017
Here's how not to fall for a tax rebate scam.
The end of the 2016/2017 tax year is just around the corner. You might be hoping for a rebate from the taxman if you had too much tax taken from your pay or you recently stopped working.
You may think it's your lucky day if you receive an email, text or phone call telling you that you're due a tax rebate. But this is not always what it seems – as fraudsters can target victims with a tax rebate scam.
To make sure you don't fall for one, we're taking you through the most common.
Fraudsters can send phishing emails supposedly from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that promise a tax rebate if you click through to the link provided.
By clicking on the link, you'll often go to a page that looks like a genuine HMRC page. This is a copycat website. The page will then ask you to input your personal information such as your debit or credit card details.
The email can also include attachments which could contain malware designed to steal personal or financial information. You should check any email that claims to be from HMRC for spelling and grammatical mistakes, and generic greetings like 'Dear Customer'.
Be wary if the email insists on your immediate and urgent action, or says you only have a few days to do something – this is a tell-tale sign of a scam email.
You could receive a text claiming to be from HMRC that says you're due a tax rebate. The text will claim you just need to click the link provided to receive it. The link takes you to a fake website that looks like an office HMRC page.
It will usually say that you have a deadline to claim your tax rebate and use urgent language to try to get you to click the link. You can find out more about a HMRC text scam in our blog.
Scammers can call up unsuspecting victims, telling them that they are due a tax rebate after being in the wrong tax code for several years.
The person on the other end of the line might ask for your card details or that you pay an administration fee in advance of receiving the rebate. Without realising the scam, the victim gives out their card details and makes the payment.
A similar version of this scam sees fraudsters pretend that the victims owe income tax and need to pay this in iTunes voucher codes. You can find out more about the HMRC and iTunes gift card scam in our blog.
What the HMRC say
The HMRC say they will never use texts or emails to:
• tell you about a tax rebate or penalty,
• ask you about specific facts about your tax return and financial status, or
• ask for personal or payment information.
HMRC will also never attach a document or send you links. HMRC will send you a P800 tax calculation letter to tell you that you're due a tax rebate.
Find out whether a tax rebate happens automatically in our blog.