Tax credit customers should be vigilant and on the lookout for potential scams, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) warned, as the remaining annual renewal packs will arrive in the mail this week.
In the 12 months leading up to April 30, 2021, HMRC responded to more than 1,154,300 reports of suspicious contact from the public. Over 576,960 of them were offering bogus tax refunds.
During the same period, HMRC worked with telecommunications companies and Ofcom to remove more than 3,000 malicious phone numbers, and with Internet service providers to remove more than 15,700 malicious web pages. The HMRC responded to 443,033 reports of telephone scams in total, up 135% from the previous year.
Anyone renewing their tax credits who received a fraudulent tax or benefits email or text could be tricked into thinking it was from HMRC and sharing their personal information with criminals , or even transfer money for a bogus overpayment.
HMRC’s cybersecurity operations identify and stop scams every day. The ministry was the first to use technical controls in the government to prevent its helplines from being tampered with, so that fraudsters can no longer make it look like they are calling from those HMRC numbers.
Myrtle Lloyd, General Manager of Customer Services at HMRC, said:
We urge all of our customers to be very careful if they are contacted unexpectedly by someone asking for money or bank details.
There are many scams where scammers call, text, or email customers claiming to be HMRC. If you have any doubts, we suggest you do not respond directly and contact us yourself immediately. Search GOV.UK for our “Scam Checklist” and find out “How to Report Tax Scams”.
Many scams imitate government messages to appear genuine and reassuring. HMRC is a familiar brand, which criminals abuse to add credibility to their scams.
If customers cannot verify the identity of a caller, HMRC recommends that you do not speak to them. Customers can visit GOV.UK for the HMRC Scam Checklist for how to report tax scams and how to recognize a genuine HMRC contact.
Tax credits help working families with targeted financial support, so it’s important that people don’t miss out on the money they are entitled to. Customers have until July 31 to notify HMRC of any change in circumstances that may affect their claims.
Renewing online is quick and easy. Customers can log into GOV.UK to check the progress of their renewal, be reassured that it is being processed, and know when they will receive a response from HMRC. Customers can also use the HMRC app on their smartphone to:
- renew their tax credits
- check their tax credit payment schedule, and
- find out how much they earned for the year
Tax credit customers should report changes to HMRC. Circumstances that could affect tax credit payments include the following changes:
- working hours, or
- income (increase or decrease)
Customers do not need to report any temporary drop in their working hours due to the coronavirus. They will be treated as if they were working their regular hours until the coronavirus job retention program closes.
Information on renewing your tax credits
The deadline for customers to renew their tax credits is July 31, 2021. If customers have not received their renewal pack by June 4, they will need to contact HMRC
The tax credits are replaced by the Universal Credit. Customers cannot benefit from tax credits and universal credit at the same time.