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HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is warning customers not to share sensitive personal information online to prevent their identity from being used to commit tax fraud.
This follows reports of criminals attempting to obtain government gateway credentials and other personal information, allowing them to register for income tax self-assessment and submit false tax refund requests before pocketing the refund.
Individuals ranging from teenagers to retirees are being targeted on social media platforms by fraudsters seeking to “impersonate” them. In return, the individual is promised a “risk-free” reduction in the tax refund.
Passing sensitive personal information to criminals like this, even inadvertently, risks implicating individuals in tax evasion and having to repay the full value of the fraudulent claim.
Customers should therefore only deal with HMRC directly or through their tax adviser in relation to their self-assessment tax refunds.
Simon Cubitt, Cybercrime Manager, HMRC, said: ‘People need to think extremely carefully before getting involved in an arrangement like this because if something seems too good to be true then it almost certainly is. the case.
“Those who get involved are at risk of blackmail, threats of violence and wider abuse of their personal information as criminals seek to exploit them further.
“I urge anyone who may be aware of these dishonest attempts to recruit individuals into crime, to report them to us by searching ‘Report Fraud HMRC’ on GOV.UK and completing our online form.”
In addition to their Government Gateway credentials, customers may also be asked to provide details of their bank account, passport, driver’s license, address, date of birth and national insurance number.
HMRC works with other law enforcement agencies and social media companies to tackle crime on online platforms.
Last month (February 10), HMRC made coordinated arrests of four people aged between 16 and 33 in Hertfordshire, Bristol, Derbyshire and Buckinghamshire as part of an investigation into suspected car refund fraud -assessment and money laundering. Investigations are ongoing.