Individuals claiming tax credits are warned to watch out for fraudulent messages allegedly from the tax officer.
Tax credits help working families with targeted financial assistance, and people have until July 31 to notify HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of any change in circumstances that may affect their entitlements.
But anyone who renews their tax credits and received an email or text message stating tax or benefit fraud could be tricked into believing it was from the HMRC and share their personal information with the criminals or transfer money to them.
HMRC said it had responded to more than 1,154,300 public referrals of suspicious contacts in the 12 months ended April. More than 576,960 of them offered fake tax rebates.
During the same period, HMRC worked with telecommunications companies and Ofcom to remove more than 3,000 malicious phone numbers and with Internet service providers to delete over 15,700 websites. It responded to a total of 443,033 reports of telephone fraud – 135% more than in the previous year.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General of Customer Service, said, “We urge all of our customers to be very careful if someone out of the blue calls them for money or banking information.
“There are a lot of scams where scammers call, text or email customers claiming to be from HMRC. If you have any doubts, we recommend that you do not answer directly and contact us yourself immediately. Find our fraud checklist on gov.uk and learn how to report tax fraud. “
HMRC recommends that people should not speak to a caller if they cannot verify their identity.
People can log in to gov.uk to check the progress of their tax credit renewals, make sure they are being processed, and know when to hear from HMRC. Customers can also use the HMRC app on their smartphone to renew their tax credits.
According to HMRC, people don’t have to report temporary reductions in working hours due to the coronavirus. They will be treated as if they had their normal working hours until the coronavirus maintenance program closes.