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Landlords beware year-end tax scams

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Landlords who have yet to complete their annual self-assessment tax returns are among those being warned of a surge in tax scam emails, calls and texts.

31 January is the deadline for tax returns and the Inland Revenue, as usual, has sent out thousands of SMS and emails reminders. This year these reminders have triggered more than the usual crop of fraudulent copy-cat messages promising tax refunds and rebates.

HMRC said it had responded to more than 846,000 referrals from the public of suspicious messages in the last year. Almost 500,000 of the referrals promised bogus tax rebates.

The tax authority’s interim director general for customer services, Karl Khan, warned that criminals use the self-assessment deadline to panic customers into sharing personal or financial details and even into paying bogus tax bills. ‘If someone calls, emails or texts claiming to be from HMRC, offering financial help or asking for money, it might be a scam. Please take a moment to think before parting with any private information or money’, he said.

Revenue guidance, Identify HMRC related scam phone calls, emails and text messages, advises using a checklist to decide if a suspicious contact is a scam and not a genuine phone call, text message or email. Contacts could be scams if they are unexpected, offer a refund, tax rebate or grant, ask for personal information such as bank details, are threatening, or tell you to transfer money, it suggests.

Suspicious HMRC communications can be reported to HMRC at phishing@hmrc.gov.uk or by sending a text to 60599. Phone scams can also be reported online.