How to spot HMRC scam text targeting unsuspecting victims filling in tax rebates | Personal Finance | Finance newsbhunt


An expert has laid out the warning signs to avoid falling for an HMRC text scam which is impacting unsuspecting victims from all across the UK.

Scam texts and calls from fraudsters impersonating HMRC are currently targeting the 12 million people in the UK expected to fill out a Self Assessment tax return before the deadline in January, an expert has shared.

To help anyone facing a potential HMRC text scam, experts at takepayments have detailed the signs you should look out for and how to avoid falling victim to fraudulent attempts.

Paul Cooper, Head of Technology Delivery at takepayments: “A recent report by NatWest found that phishing scams – fake emails, calls or texts which claim to be from legitimate organisations – are the most common type of scam in the UK in 2023. Second-most common are ‘trusted organisation scams’. 21 per cent of Brits have been targeted by a criminal impersonating a trusted organisation like HMRC this year.

“In fact, HMRC scams have become so prevalent that the Government has been forced to put out an official scam warning for the 12 million people in the UK expected to submit a Self Assessment tax return before the deadline on the January 31, 2024.

“Multiple scam texts, emails and phishing calls have been doing the rounds recently, claiming to be from HMRC. The fake messages claim the respondent either owes money, is owed a refund from HMRC or needs to update their details to avoid being accused of tax evasion. The messages invite you to click a link with the aim of extracting personal information to steal money.

“Fraudsters are taking advantage of the current unstable economic conditions by offering inviting tax rebate opportunities – HMRC has already received more than 130,000 scam reports this year and efforts from scammers are only set to escalate as the tax return deadline nears.”

He has shared the signs of his scam that one should keep in mind:

Unsolicited messages regarding refunds

Unexpected text messages regarding any form of financial payment or action should always be considered suspicious, especially if the language encourages urgency. HMRC will never ask for your bank details or personal information over text.

Spelling and grammar mistakes in the text

Scammers often use broken English or grammatical mistakes within their texts. This could be a giveaway that a message or email isn’t legitimate.

If the message is from a suspicious number

Trusted bodies like HMRC won’t usually send official communication from a mobile number. Always check the number the message has come from and if in doubt, use a phone number lookup service online. If the number begins with 07 or is withheld, treat it as suspicious and don’t open any included links. Be aware that the number “60263” has been closely linked to fraudsters impersonating HMRC.

Background noise that sounds artificial on calls

There have been reports of an automated phone call claiming to be HMRC filing a lawsuit against you for tax evasion doing the rounds. Some fraudsters are using AI to produce these automated calls. Scammers often use background sounds to give the impression they are calling from a specific location, like a call centre. However, if these sounds seem looped, overly consistent, or don’t match the context of the call, they could be artificially added post-production to lend authenticity to the scam. Actual calls usually have clear sound quality without inconsistent or intrusive background noises.

How to try and avoid this scam 

Never send money via bank transfer to unknown sources – Many scammers request tax rebate payment by bank or wire transfer, or through a peer-to-peer (P2P) app like PayPal. These methods are designed for sending money to people that you know, like family and friends. They are not intended to be used for trusted organisation transactions and do not have protection in place to recover lost funds from fraud.

Look for two-factor authentication

Also known as 3D Secure Authentication (3DS), two-factor authentication is a key security feature when making online payments. Secure sites that use 3DS will have a Visa Secure, MasterCard SecureCode, or American Express SafeKey logo on them.

Never share personal details or information

Although HMRC do use text communication they will never request payment details over text or email. Links included in these messages are likely to lead to fraudulent websites.Unsecure payment gateways do not ask for four-digit card PINs or online banking information, including passwords.

Protect your information online

Having personal details like your phone number and email address publicly available on social media or websites make you a much easier target for hackers. Ensure that this information is hidden so that you can better protect yourself.

If you think a scam seems suspicious, go to the official body and reply directly. Do not reply to the text or email itself as you may be providing scammers with your personal data. You can report any suspicious texts to 60599 or email to help fight fraud.”


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