15.6.2021 | Tax

How to spot a scam and avoid becoming a victim of fraud

Andrew Diver, Head of Taxation at Beatons Group, advises how to protect yourself from fraud.

Scams appear to be on the rise, especially those claiming to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

According to HMRC, it responded to more than 1.1million referrals of suspicious contact from the public in the last 12 months, up to April 2021.

Of these, more than 570,000 were offering false tax rebates.

Criminals often target the most vulnerable in society – with Age UK reporting 43% of people aged 65 or over have been the target of scammers.

However, it is something everyone – from individuals to businesses – should be aware of.

Here, Andrew Diver, Head of Taxation at Beatons Group, gives advice on how to protect yourself from fraud.

How to identify a scam
Scammers have become more sophisticated over the years, with many now mimicking government messages to appear authentic.

HMRC is among the most popular organisations scammers claim to be, using its credibility to dupe people into handing over their hard-earned cash.

However, there are a few things to look out for – if a call, email or text is unexpected, offers a refund, grant or tax rebate, asks for personal information like bank details or asks to transfer money, it could be a scam.

If you receive a call, HMRC will only ever ask you about a claim or payment you already know about and will never leave a voicemail threatening legal action.

Ultimately, it is better to be suspicious of a message and wrong than trust it and open yourself up to fraud.

What to do if you suspect a call is bogus
Above all, never give out your personal or financial details to anyone you cannot prove is genuine.

If you cannot verify the identity of the caller, do not speak to them.

Do not click on any links or reply to any texts you think may be scams or pay them any money.

If the call is genuine, a real organisation will not mind you double-checking.

The best way to do that is to contact the company directly on a known email or telephone number.

Do not interact with the messages at all – don’t even confirm personal information is accurate as this could also be used by fraudsters.

You can then report the suspicious incidents to Action Fraud on its website at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 1232040.