4 Tax Scams To Look Out For: Avoid The Trap!

The digital world is a dangerous place. As more people conduct themselves online, more threats open up to catch out the unwary. HMRC tax scams, for instance, are on the rise – and a larger number…

5 Minute Read

Last Updated: 30th November 2023

The digital world is a dangerous place. As more people conduct themselves online, more threats open up to catch out the unwary. HMRC tax scams, for instance, are on the rise – and a larger number of people are handing their information over without taking due care.

To prepare you for any scams you may encounter on the web or elsewhere, we want to list the four biggest UK tax frauds of the year. It’s more important than ever to exert caution where it is due and bolster your security practices. Read on to learn how criminals are seeking to fool your better judgement…

1. University student tax scam

Our country has a very large student population. Scammers have noticed this fact, and in autumn 2018, they targeted some of our most prestigious universities. Durham, Plymouth, Queen Mary London, Sussex and Manchester Metropolitan were among those that received a number of fake emails in their networks, received by hundreds of thousands of students.

The messages claimed to be from HMRC. They offered a tax refund if the user followed a link and confirmed their details. An ‘authentic’ sender address (finishing in .ac.uk) was even used to back this up, as well as HMRC’s logo and branding.

2. Bogus DVLA requests

Car tax is a sore point for many drivers. Much of that is driven by the changes to it in April 2018 – something that’s left people confused and hopeful for a refund on overpayment. So it’s no wonder that scammers have imitated the DVLA this year.

A refund is the hook for false DVLA emails. They offer a reimbursement worth hundreds of pounds. They will ask for your National Insurance number, standard details like your address, and your full debit card information.

According to the Express, the official DVLA logo has been stretched in an “unnatural” way; one of the giveaways that the email isn’t what it purports to be. The fact that fake DVLA messages ask for your mother’s maiden name, in a lot of cases, should also sound alarm bells.

Tax refunds, however, will only be announced with an official letter. If you suspect you have received a fraudulent request, check that they are using a .gov.uk website, and try to get in touch with them through the details provided on the official contact page.

3. Voicemails for the self-employed

Out of our round-up, this might be the most insidious: an actual series of voicemails left under the guise of HMRC, asking for a call back or to confirm financial information over the phone.

It’s been a big problem, because the government does make phone calls when they want to speak to you. But HMRC tax scams are differentiated when they don’t use a reference number you’ll recognise – your UTR, for instance.

The self-employed are a common target. If you’re called with a similar information request, try and verify it. Look up the number online; it could be blacklisted as a scammer ID. If the number is legitimate, ask for a form of identification you recognise on the caller’s end when dialling back.

4. Council tax scams across the UK

Council tax messages are popular for scammers because they are so widespread and apply to any working professional. The difference is that real refunds hit your bank account almost straight away. The council already has your details. You won’t be charged for the reimbursement either. These are two signs of a false authority.

We don’t want you to fall victim to a scam attempt. It’s important to be knowledgeable about the forms they can come in, to take the proper precaution, and to know what to do if you receive a suspicious message.

Want an extra security tool? GoSimpleTax software is recognised by HMRC and can be used to make an accurate, easy Self Assessment submission. Best of all, it’s backed by a strict data sharing policy and 256-bit encryption and can be found on the list of HMRC recognised software vendors Learn more with our free trial.

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

What penalties will you pay for filing your Self Assessment tax return late?

01 Mar 2024

So, for whatever reason, you didn’t file your Self Assessment tax return before the midnight 31 January deadline. If it’s the first time it’s…

Do you need to complete a Self Assessment tax return?

01 Mar 2024

More than 12.1m people a year are required to fill out and file a Self Assessment tax return. Usually, about a million people miss…

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…

How GoSimpleTax Works


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

Select Your Income

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

Validate Your Information

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


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 >