HMRC chief receives call from scammers pretending to be taxman

Vicky ShawThu, 25 February 2021, 2:41 pm

The chief executive of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has received a scam call from fraudsters pretending to be the taxman amid a spike in people being bombarded with bogus messages.

Jim Harra wrote on Twitter on Thursday: “We’ve seen an increase in scam calls recently so are doing what we can to warn people.

“As chief executive of HMRC, even I received a scam call this week.”

His tweet advised people to report all suspect contact.

The fake call was a common scam the revenue body has been hearing about – a pre-recorded message from someone purporting to be from HMRC and falsely claiming his national insurance (NI) number had been compromised.

HMRC said earlier this week that NI scams allow fraudsters to demand payment on a fake debt or to harvest personal and financial details.

It released figures this week showing the number of phone scam reports tripled from 10,997 in December to 33,053 in January, as people worked from home.

Watch: A British shoemaker faces Brexit’s hidden costs 0:00 2:23   A British shoemaker faces Brexit’s hidden costs

Reports of dodgy texts and emails also spiked last month as criminals tried to cash in.

Criminals pretending to be HMRC officials have been targeting taxpayers at the height of the self-assessment tax return period, usually offering bogus tax rebates.

They have also called people directly to threaten legal action over unpaid tax, or sent emails or texts offering fake support or grants.

Criminals have also taken advantage of Covid-19 to approach people with fake offers of Government support for people and businesses.

In the past year HMRC has responded to 259,675 reports of phone scams, up 31% on the previous year.

It has worked with the telecoms industry and Ofcom to remove more than 2,780 phone numbers being used to commit HMRC-related phone scams.

It has also asked internet service providers to take down 366 Covid-related scam pages and detected 387 Covid-related financial scams since March 2020, most of them by text message.

Here are HMRC’s tips to thwart scammers:

– Stop: Take a moment to think before parting with your information or money.

Do not give out private information or reply to text messages, and do not download attachments or click on links in texts or emails you were not expecting.

– Challenge: It is OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests – only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Search “scams” on for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact and how to avoid and report scams.

– Protect: Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to and texts to 60599.

Contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen victim to a scam and report it to Action Fraud.