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HMRC issues scam warning to 1.5 million tax credits customers as deadline looms

HMRC  A pedestrian walks past the headquarters of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in central London February 13, 2015. British lawmakers plan to call up the bosses of HSBC and the tax authority, HMRC, to quiz them over allegations some clients of HSBC's Swiss private bank evaded tax.     REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Scams warning from HMRC as tax credits renewal deadline draws nearer. Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters (Stefan Wermuth / reuters)

Taxpayers have been told to be on their guard with the HMRC issuing a scam alert as the deadline for tax credits renewals draws close.

Criminals are known to use deadlines — like the tax credits renewal deadline on 31 July — to trick people into handing over money or personal information.

HMRC said around 1.5 million tax credits customers should be alert to scams that mimic government communications to make them appear genuine.

Typical scams include emails or texts falsely claiming someone’s details are not up to date and that the recipient may miss out on payments.

Read more: Revealed: The most convincing scams of 2023 so far

Scam messages may also claim that a payment has not “gone through”.

Criminals may also phone people and threaten them with arrest if they do not immediately pay fake tax debts.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said: “Tax scams come in many forms and we’re urging customers to be alert to the tactics used by fraudsters and never to let yourselves be rushed.

"If someone contacts you saying they’re from HMRC and asks you to give personal information or urgently transfer money, be on your guard. Search ‘HMRC scams’ advice on GOV.UK to find out how to report scams and help us fight these crimes.”

Other frauds include claims that someone’s national insurance number has been used in fraud and emails, or texts offering spurious tax rebates or bogus grants or support.

According to the National Cyber Security Centre, HMRC was the third most spoofed government body in 2022, behind the NHS and TV Licensing.

Read more: New fraud victim reimbursement scheme 'flawed', MPs warn

Lisa Webb, Which? consumer law expert, said: “Scammers will use any hook they can to try and steal money and personal information from victims, and unfortunately HMRC's tax credit renewals deadline will be no exception.

“With the HMRC deadline fast-approaching, people should be on alert for any texts, emails or phone calls which are received out of the blue asking them to pay for free government services or warning that their details are out of date.”

HMRC will never call anyone out of the blue, making threats or asking them to transfer money.

People can renew their tax credits for free via gov.uk or the HMRC app.

Watch: HMRC failing to collect £42bn in taxes MPs say windfall could fix 'black hole' in UK's finances

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