HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is today warning customers not to share sensitive personal information online to prevent their identity from being used to commit tax evasion.
HMRC is aware that criminals attempt to obtain customers’ government gateway IDs and other personal information, allowing them to register for income tax self-assessment and submit fake refund claims tax before pocketing the refund.
Individuals ranging from teenagers to retirees are being targeted on social media platforms by fraudsters seeking to “impersonate” them. In return, the individual is promised a “risk-free” tax reduction.
Passing sensitive personal information to criminals like this, even inadvertently, risks implicating individuals in tax evasion and having to repay the full value of the fraudulent claim.
Customers should therefore only deal HMRC directly or through their tax advisor regarding their self-assessment tax refunds.
Simon Cubitt, Head of Cybercrime, HMRC noted:
People should think very carefully before getting involved in an arrangement like this because if something seems too good to be true, then it almost certainly is.
Those who get involved risk blackmail, threats of violence and wider abuse of their personal information as criminals seek to exploit them further.
I urge anyone who may know of these dishonest attempts to recruit individuals into crime to report it to us by searching for “report fraud”. HMRC‘ on GOV.UK and completing our online form.
In addition to their Government Gateway credentials, customers may also be asked to provide details of their bank account, passport, driver’s license, address, date of birth and national insurance number.
HMRC works with other law enforcement agencies and social media companies to combat crime on online platforms.
Last month (February 10), HMRC made coordinated arrests of four people aged between 16 and 33 in Hertfordshire, Bristol, Derbyshire and Buckinghamshire in connection with an investigation into suspected self-assessment reimbursement fraud and money laundering offenses ‘money. Investigations are ongoing.
The National Cyber Security Center has helpful guides on how to stay safe online and protect yourself or your business from cybercrime.
Contact your bank immediately if you think you have shared personal information online and report it to Action Fraud (in Scotland contact the police on 101). If you have been approached by someone asking for tax information, you can report it to HMRC.
Details of the arrests:
- a 16-year-old man from Hertfordshire
- a 22-year-old man from Buckinghamshire
- a 26-year-old man from Derbyshire
- a 33-year-old man from Bristol
The deadline for 2020 to 2021 self-assessment tax returns was January 31. Earlier this year, HMRC removed late payment penalties for one month to give customers additional time to meet their obligations without incurring a penalty. More than 11.3 million customers filed their tax returns by February 28. Customers who have not yet paid their tax in full, or who have not yet set up a payment extension agreement, have until April 1 to do so to avoid a late payment penalty. .