With the drastic increase in phone scams throughout the UK, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have begun using new control measures, putting a stop to fraudsters copying and using some of the tax authority’s well-known helpline numbers.

Successful Scamming

Victims have reported receiving phone calls (mainly from 0300 numbers) claiming to be a legitimate call from HMRC for various reasons, but with the same goal; to gain access to your private information.

HMRC received over 100,000 phone scam reports last year. This particular scam would be successful because victims would do a simple online search of the number, and it would appear to be a genuine call from the tax office. With the contact numbers appearing legitimate, there were very few questions asked which is why the scam was so successful.

How the new measures will protect you

The new controls are the first of its kind to be used by a UK government and were devised by the telecoms industry and Ofcom. The majority of HMRC’s inbound helpline numbers are now protected against the fraudsters, so they will not be able to mimic the main numbers any more. It is highly likely that criminals will continue to operate by using other, less credible telephone numbers, which will be easier to spot as fraudulent or questionable.

How you can protect yourself

Fake phone calls are among the many scams used by fraudsters, targeting the elderly and the vulnerable for many years now. Many of you may have received emails claiming to be from the HMRC, offering you your tax rebate relatively quickly. Don’t even open the email, HMRC do not send you this information via email.

The only time HMRC will call you to ask about payment is if there is an outstanding debt that you are aware of. You will also of had previous correspondence about the matter via the post or your tax return.

As of June 2019, you do not have to read your card details aloud when talking to an operator at HMRC. Instead, you will be prompted to input them using your phone’s keypad.

Don’t divulge your private information, download unknown email attachments or reply to text messages ‘from HMRC’.

If you are self-employed and have an accountant, let them deal with HMRC and any potentially fraudulent phone calls. They are the professionals, and it’s what you pay them to do.

Take action against the fraudsters by reporting any suspicious calls, claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk.