People who fill in a self-assessment form to pay their taxes are being warned that scammers are targeting them.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has warned people that as it is issuing thousands of text messages and emails as part of its annual self-assessment tax return push, customers completing their returns need to to take care to avoid being caught out by scammers.

The department knows that fraudsters use calls, emails or texts to contact customers.

In the last 12 months, HMRC has responded to more than 846,000 referrals of suspicious HMRC contact from the public, and reported over 15,500 malicious web pages to internet service providers to be taken down. Almost 500,000 of the referrals from the public offered bogus tax rebates.

Many scams target customers to inform them of a fake ‘tax rebate’ or ‘tax refund’ they are due. The imposters use language intended to convince them to hand over personal information, including bank details, in order to claim the ‘refund’. Criminals will use this information to access customers’ bank accounts, trick them into paying fictitious tax bills, or sell on their personal information to other criminals.

HMRC’s interim director general for customer services, Karl Khan, said: “We know that criminals are taking advantage of the upcoming self assessment deadline on January 31 to panic customers into sharing their personal or financial details and even paying bogus ‘tax due’.

“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.”

Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said: “It’s important to remember if you’re contacted out the blue by someone purporting to be from HMRC asking for your personal or financial details, or offering you a tax rebate, grant or refund, this could be a scam. Do not respond, hang up the phone, and take care not to click on any links in unexpected emails or text messages. You should contact HMRC directly using a phone number you’ve used before to check if the communication you have received is genuine.

“If you’ve been the victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and please report it to Action Fraud online at or by calling 0300 123 2040.”

Customers can report suspicious activity to HMRC at and texts to 60599. They can also report phone scams online on GOV.UK.

Ways to spot a tax scam

It could be a scam if it:

• is unexpected

• offers a refund, tax rebate or grant

• asks for personal information like bank details

• is threatening

• tells you to transfer money.

If you’re concerned about falling victim to a potential scam, remember:


• Take a moment to think before parting with your information or money.

• Don’t give out private information or reply to text messages, and don’t download attachments or click on links in texts or emails you weren’t expecting.


• It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests - only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

• Search ‘scams’ on GOV.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact and how to avoid and report scams.


• Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to and texts to 60599.

• Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, and report it to Action Fraud.