Farmers are being warned to be on the alert for fraudsters claiming that HMRC have taken out a warrant for their arrest.
Accountancy firm Dodd & Co is warning that there is a new telephone scam where people receive an automated message purporting to be from the police.
The message gives a warrant number and requests the listener gets in contact.
The unsuspecting victim calls back and gives the fraudster personal information that can subsequently be used in a fraud against them.
Tax specialists DSR Tax Claims said it had also heard of people getting calls falsely informing them they are going to be taken to court by HMRC and tricking them into paying bogus unpaid taxes.
David Redfern, director, said anyone unfortunate enough to be facing genuine HMRC court action would be informed of this by letter by HMRC, not by phone or email.
“The first you know of the court action won’t be a phone call threatening you with immediate legal action unless you pay up – HMRC will have been in contact by post, most likely on more than one occasion, in order to sort out the issue without the requirement for court action – so if you receive one of these calls, take a deep breath and give yourself time to respond with a clear head.”
Mr Redfern also urged people to use their critical-thinking skills if they receive such a call.
He pointed out some scammers have requested payment via unconventional methods such as iTunes vouchers or other digital vouchers.
“That alone should ring warning bells for any taxpayer – all payments made to HMRC are through appropriate payment methods, and just as you wouldn’t expect to pay for your car tax by iTunes vouchers, nor should you expect to pay your income tax that way.”
HMRC would always inform taxpayers about overpayments and underpayments by letter, on HMRC letterheaded paper, he added.
Any texts, emails and phone calls regarding tax rebates or requirements to pay unpaid taxes could be safely disregarded as phishing emails or scams.
‘End the call’
HMRC’s website says it is aware of an automated phone call scam that will tell you HMRC is filing a lawsuit against you, and to press one to speak to a caseworker to make a payment.
“We can confirm this is a scam and you should end the call immediately.
“This scam has been widely reported and often targets elderly and vulnerable people.
“Other scam calls may offer a tax refund and request you to provide your bank or credit card information.
“If you cannot verify the identity of the caller, we recommend that you do not speak to them.”
Report suspected fraud
You should report all incidents to Action Fraud or call them on 0300 123 2040. They are open Monday to Friday 9:00-18:00.
You should also report the full details to HMRC (date, time, phone number used and content of the call) via email.