A warning has been issued regarding an email scam which purports to be from HMRC demanding payment for tax fraud.
West Yorkshire Police and Action Fraud Alert are letting people know about the distressing calls and emails, which they strongly advise are NOT legitimate.
Calls and automated messages have been received puporting to be from HMRC, in which you are either being accused of tax fraud or told that you owe money to them.
The caller usually then demands immediate payment or legal action will be taken.
In some cases the caller even goes so far as to say there is a warrant out for your arrest and a police officer will be arriving to arrest you.
Police and Action Fraud Alert say that these calls are aimed to pressurise people in to giving their card details, bank account information and/or other personal details.
Officers say that although this kind of scam can happen at anytime, they are most common when deadlines, such as tax returns, are due.
Here's how to spot the signs of this latest scam:
Threatening language: A common sign of a scam is the use of threatening language which is designed to prevent you from thinking carefully about your actions and to pressure you into acting quickly.
Being contacted unexpectedly: HMRC may genuinely contact individuals regarding outstanding tax bills via telephone and may sometimes use automated messages. However, they will not do this without first having informed you of the outstanding debt by letter, or without receiving notification from you that tax is owed, for example through a self-assessment return.
Being asked to share personal details over the phone: Genuine organisations will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your bank details or other personal information.
How to protect yourself:
Don't give out personal information via text, email or phone if you have been contacted unexpectedly.
If you have caller display, don't assume that the number that appears on the screen is the number that is actually being used. Criminals can use something called 'number spoofing' to make it seem like they are calling from a legitimate phone number.
Don't be afraid to tell the caller that you wish to verify their identity and then hang up. You should then find the legitimate contact details for HMRC either on their website (www.gov.uk), or use the number listed on a trusted piece of correspondence that you have previously received, such as a letter.
How to report HMRC scams:
Forward suspicious emails and details of suspicious phone calls to HMRC's phishing team using the email address email@example.com
Forward suspicious text messages to 60599. Please note that messages will be charged at your network rate.
If you have been a victim of one of these scams please report it to Action Fraud either via telephone on 0300 123 2040, or on their website www.actionfraud.police.uk using their online fraud reporting tool.
For further information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact, please visit the Gov.uk website (www.gov.uk) or follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk