How to spot a Self Assessment tax scam

The threat of being targeted by scammers seems ever present these days. Many of us are frequently targeted, usually by bogus, fraudulent and indeed criminal phone calls, emails or texts that seek to get us to…

5 Minute Read

Last Updated: 13th February 2024

The threat of being targeted by scammers seems ever present these days. Many of us are frequently targeted, usually by bogus, fraudulent and indeed criminal phone calls, emails or texts that seek to get us to reveal information that enables scammers to steal our hard-earned money. Sadly, sometimes they succeed.

Some tax scams are easier than others to spot. Among the more difficult scams to detect are those that claim to come from HMRC, which is warning Self Assessment taxpayers to be vigilant when it comes to scam texts, emails and phone calls that in reality come from fraudsters and criminals.

UK tax scam warning

HMRC received more than 130,000 reports of tax scams in the 12 months to September 2023, with 58,000 of these offering fake tax rebates. HMRC is concerned that there could be a tax scam spike in the remaining months of this year and January next year.

“HMRC is reminding customers to be wary of approaches by fraudsters in the run-up to the Self Assessment deadline,” says Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services. “Criminals are great pretenders who try to dupe people by sending emails, phone calls and texts that mimic government messages to make them appear authentic. Unexpected contacts like these should set alarm bells ringing,” she warns.

Common types of tax scam

Tax scams come in different guises. In addition to those that offer taxpayers a bogus tax rebate, others tell you that you need to update your tax details or they threaten you with a hefty fine or even arrest for tax evasion. Fraudulent tax rebate offers can be hard to identify, because there are now many legitimate commercial service providers that offer to obtain tax refunds.

Another popular scam is where fraudsters submit a refund claim to HMRC on your behalf, charging you a fee based on how much you get. Later, when HMRC discovers you weren’t owed a tax rebate, it will request immediate repayment, leaving you out of pocket because of the fee you’ve paid to the fraudsters.

In other cases, criminals send fake emails that look like they come from HMRC. They contain a link, and after clicking on it, you’re asked to enter card details. Then, with lightning speed, money is stolen from your account.

How to spot a tax scam

If you receive an unexpected text, email or phone call claiming to come from HMRC, don’t respond directly. Instead, contact HMRC directly to seek verification.

HMRC does use QR codes in its letters to taxpayers, but they would never take you to a website page that asks you to reveal personal tax or financial information. The same is true of texts. If you receive an automated phone call pretending to be HMRC warning you that it is taking legal action against you for tax avoidance/evasion, hang up straight away and block the call if your phone enables you to do so.

If you receive an email that looks like it comes from HMRC (fraudsters will make it look genuine, complete with actual HMRC email addresses), do not click on links to websites or open any attachments, because these can be malicious. Never reveal any personal or card information.

How to report tax scams

HMRC encourages taxpayers to report suspicious emails, texts and phone calls. Visit the government website GOV.UK to find out how.

GoSimpleTax is award-winning software that makes it quick and easy to complete and file your Self Assessment tax return and supplementary pages. It can also prevent you from making basic tax return errors that can later cost you time and money. Thousands of sole traders, landlords and others love GoSimpleTax. Start your FREE trial today!

Trusted by over 20,000 subscribers

You don't need to be an expert to complete your self assessment tax return.

Find Out More

Blog content is for information purposes and over time may become outdated, although we do strive to keep it current. It's written to help you understand your Tax's and is not to be relied upon as professional accounting, tax and legal advice due to differences in everyone's circumstances. For additional help please contact our support team or HMRC.

5 Excellent Reasons to Choose Us

Discover how to make tax returns a doddle...

Find out more

Are you a Brit living overseas who needs to file a Self Assessment tax return?

19 Feb 2024

When you leave the UK, you can leave behind many things you don’t like. The cold, wet, British weather is top of many people’s…
READ MORE >

What happens if you don’t submit a Self Assessment tax return?

08 Feb 2024

The online-filing deadline for Self Assessment tax returns is the same every year – midnight on 31 January. In 2024, according to HMRC, 12,187,811…
READ MORE >

Registering for Self Assessment: key facts for sole traders and landlords

02 Jan 2024

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people in the UK become a sole-trader or landlord for the first time. You may be one of…
READ MORE >

How GoSimpleTax Works

01.
Register

Simply register for free with your full name and email address.

02.
Select Your Income

Select the income you receive and follow the hints and tips for potential tax savings.

03.
Validate Your Information

Validate your personal information and submit directly to HMRC to get confirmation in just seconds.

ipad

Work Anywhere, With Any Device

Gone are the days of fretting over a calculator surrounded by scraps of paper at the eleventh hour.

GoSimpleTax’s tax return software uses the information you upload in real time to calculate your income and expenditure, working out the tax you owe and sending you helpful notifications when there’s the possibility of a mistake.

Start your free trial

"The software is intuitive and proved very easy to navigate. I found the whole process refreshingly simple. I saved a lot of money too!"

Steve J.

Ordained Presbyter

"Easy to use and value for money. Everything you need to do your tax."

Gordon J.

Self Employed

"It fills in all the forms and sends them to the Inland Revenue. Not expensive either. Takes the stress out of doing your tax return online."

Ross G.

Team Rector

5 reasons to use GoSimpleTax >