HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has urged taxpayers to be vigilant ahead of the self-assessment deadline on 31 January 2020, with a surge in fraudulent activity expected.

HMRC has said that it has received 900,000 reports in the last 12 months relating to suspected fraud, with phone calls, text messages and emails being the most common form of scam.

The volume of scams is expected to increase ahead of the self-assessment deadline, with fraudsters purporting to be from HMRC sending emails or text messages with a link to a fake HMRC page in an attempt to steal data and money.

Genuine organisations such as HMRC or banks would never contact an individual to ask for personal data, such as passwords, bank details and pins.

Gareth Shaw, Head of Money at Which?, said: “The number of people targeted by
HMRC scams is staggering and the problem is only likely to get worse as the self-assessment deadline looms.

“Sophisticated tactics like number spoofing see innocent people losing life-changing sums every day – so banks, telecoms companies and firms being targeted must collaborate on developing solutions to halt this worsening crime.

“Victims of HMRC scams often end up being tricked into transferring money to a criminal, and while a new industry code is in place offering greater protections against transfer fraud, the next government must make this mandatory to ensure all payment providers are signed up to these vital measures.”

Some experts are also calling for banks and regulators to agree on a reimbursement fund that will ensure that victims will be able to recoup money lost if they are affected by these scams.

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