HMRC warns of landline scams threatening households
08 March 2019
Households with a landline number should be vigilant of phone calls from fraudsters pretending to be the tax authority, warns HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Those with landline phones are warned to be cautious due to criminals using phones to contact victims following a rising focus on SMS and email phishing.
As HMRC has increasingly cracked down on email and SMS phishing, a rising number of criminals are turning to the traditional method of cold-calling publicly available phone numbers to steal money from taxpayers. Often these calls are to landline numbers.
According to Ofcom, nearly 26 million homes have a landline, many of which could be at risk from scams, especially if they are not ex-directory.
Phone scams often target the elderly and vulnerable using HMRC’s brand as it is well known and adds credibility to a fraudster’s call.
HMRC received more than 60,000 reports of phone scams in 6 months up to January 2019. This is an increase of 360% compared to the 6 months before this.
During the last 12 months, HMRC has worked with the phone networks and Ofcom to close nearly 450 lines being used by fraudsters using boiler room tactics to steal money.
If anyone is ever in doubt about who they are speaking to, HMRC advises you end the call and contact the department using one of the numbers or online services available from GOV.UK.
If you know someone who has a landline, particularly those who may need protecting such as vulnerable relatives and neighbours, HMRC’s advice is:
recognise the signs - genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details
stay safe - don’t give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren’t expecting
take action – forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC and details of suspicious calls to [email protected] and texts to 60599. Alternatively, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use its online fraud reporting tool, especially if you suffer financial loss
check GOV.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact
if you think you have received an HMRC-related phishing/bogus email or text message, you can check it against the examples shown in this guide.