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Monday, January 29, 2024

How you can protect yourself as fraudsters target UK taxpayers

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‘Tis the season for, properly, a lot of issues. Get trick or treating out of the way in which, after which it’s time for the vacations. End unwrapping your presents, and prepare for New 12 months’s Eve. When you’ve caught up in your sleep, it’s arguably probably the most thrilling time of all – that’s proper, tax season. 

In all seriousness, tax season may be an especially annoying time for taxpayers and accountants alike – maybe much more so this 12 months, with HMRC’s monumental change, Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT, totally underway for the primary time. 

Affected enterprise homeowners and their advisors are adapting to this transformation whereas the self-employed and landlords are getting ready for the arrival of subsequent 12 months’s MTD for Revenue Tax Self Evaluation (ITSA) – each of which is able to lead to better efficiencies and fewer onerous admin. 

Nevertheless, a extra pernicious subject is looming giant. 

HMRC has warned that taxpayers are more and more being focused by fraudsters, and ought to be aware of scams the place they will pay money for private data or financial institution particulars. Right here’s all it’s worthwhile to find out about this burgeoning menace, and a few steps to maintain your particulars protected. 

Menace panorama

Based on HMRC, between September 2021 and August 2022 they’ve responded to greater than 180,000 referrals of suspicious exercise from taxpayers and of those referrals, virtually 81,000 of those associated to scams providing pretend tax rebates.

I’ve personally obtained a number of of those in current months. They’ve included an automatic phone message telling me that I’ve underpaid Nationwide Insurance coverage and to pay over the cellphone or face a felony conviction, in addition to emails claiming to be HMRC telling me to click on a hyperlink to enter financial institution particulars to get my tax rebate. Suspicion piqued, fortunately I did neither.

I’m fortunate sufficient to have a background in tax advisory, so I do know the warning indicators. However others gained’t concentrate on their tax place, particularly those that are unrepresented. At a time the place many are struggling, the prospect of free cash from HMRC is interesting and I concern many will fall sufferer to those horrible scams over the following few months.

So, how will you inform in case you are being focused? 

Be vigilant

First, it’s very important to keep in mind that HMRC would by no means name somebody threatening arrest. If you happen to ever get this name, alarm bells ought to be ringing. In actual fact, in case you obtain contact from anybody claiming to be from HMRC in any method, it is best to take your time and verify this recommendation on gov.uk.

If you happen to suspect you’re being focused, you’ll be able to report suspicious exercise to HMRC by forwarding textual content messages to 60599 and any emails to phising@hmrc.gov.uk. If you happen to obtain a cellphone name, you’ll be able to report it utilizing this on-line type

It’s additionally essential to keep in mind this barely pessimistic view: if it sounds too good to be true, it in all probability is. If you happen to obtain any correspondence from HMRC saying you’re due a rebate or face felony motion in case you don’t act now, simply cease, take a minute after which contact HMRC straight if in case you have any considerations.

Steps to security

Hopefully you escape this season with out being focused by fraudsters, however keep in mind there are at all times additional steps you’ll be able to take to maintain your data protected. 

First, use Multi-Issue Authentication or verification apps to construct in extra ranges of safety. Second, at all times apply software program updates in your units as and once they develop into out there. Third, by no means use the identical password for various web sites – you wouldn’t share your Netflix logins with somebody if the password was the identical as your Amazon account, for instance. 

Lastly, by no means share your login data with anybody, no matter how reliable they might appear. By bearing these factors in thoughts, it is best to have the ability to keep away from being caught out by fraudsters this tax season.

To study extra about MTD for VAT, take a look at our hubs for small companies and accountants. If you wish to discover out extra about MTD for ITSA, we’ve a host of assets out there to get you in control. 

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