HMRC ‘scam phone calls’ still at large

Contractors are being reminded to proceed with caution if ever they receive a phone call from someone purporting to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) insisting they need to pay an overdue tax bill.

The warnings come after several reports emerged earlier this month suggesting that bogus phone calls from fraudsters posing as HMRC officials were growing increasingly common across the UK.

Police crime watchdog Action Fraud has warned that scammers are cold-calling taxpayers and demanding immediate payments of several hundred pounds in order to settle bogus tax debts – while Police forces all around the country have reported instances where unsuspecting taxpayers appear to have been conned.

For example, Avon and Somerset Constabulary issued a warning over the bogus phone calls after an unnamed pensioner in the area purchased a number of iTunes gift vouchers worth hundreds of pounds after being pressured by a cold-caller purporting to be from HMRC.

Fraudsters had asked the gentleman to pass on these vouchers to a bogus HMRC representative, but fortunately, the unnamed man phoned the police first amid concerns that the scheme looked shady.

Similar reports have emerged this month in national newspapers such as The Sun and The Telegraph, suggesting that fraudsters have taken a liking to iTunes and similar gift vouchers in their scams due to their relatively untraceable nature.

In recent weeks, HMRC has issued a press release indicating that it has been successful in halting numerous scams before taxpayers are targeted.

However, HMRC’s successes relate solely to text message scams – and cold-calling scams appear to still be at large.

Contractors are reminded to think twice if they receive any unsolicited contact purporting to be from HMRC. If in doubt that unsolicited contact is real, they should consult HMRC’s guidance on how to spot genuine contact here.