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Five tax credits scams to watch out for as renewal packs land

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Tax credits recipients are urged to be on guard against scams as fraudsters will use any trick to steal your information and your cash, especially as the renewal deadline looms.

HMRC has issued an alert for the 1.5 million tax credits recipients as it’s been made aware of fresh scams trying to trick people into handing over money or personal information.

It said criminals often use deadlines – such as the 31 July tax credits deadline – to target victims, and scammers also mimic Government departments to make them appear genuine.

Tax credits packs are being sent out in batches until 15 June, requiring recipients to tell HMRC about any changes to their situation, including to living arrangements, childcare, working hours or income.

However, if you receive contact purporting to be from HMRC regarding your renewal, particularly if you’re pressured into making rushed decisions or you’re asked to transfer money, don’t respond, and hang up the call.

HMRC will never ring anyone out of the blue making threats or asking recipients to transfer money.

Five scams doing the rounds

It has shared these five typical scams to watch out for:

  1. Emails or texts claiming an individual’s details aren’t up-to-date and that they risk losing out on payments that are due to them
  2. Emails or texts claiming that a direct debit payment hasn’t ‘gone through’
  3. Phone calls threatening arrest if people don’t immediately pay fake tax owed
  4. Claims that the victim’s National Insurance number has been used in fraud
  5. Emails or texts offering spurious tax rebates or bogus grants or support.

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.”

According to the National Cyber Security Centre, HMRC was the third most spoofed Government body in 2022, behind the NHS and TV Licensing. HMRC is also urging tax credits customers to be alert to misleading websites or adverts asking them to pay for Government services which are free, often by charging for a connection to HMRC helplines.

Further, it also warned people not to share their HMRC login details with anyone else. Someone using these could steal from the account owner or make a fraudulent claim in their name and leave customers having to pay back the full value of any fraudulent repayment claim made on their behalf.

By the end of 2024, tax credits will be replaced by Universal Credit.

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