Don't get duped by a self-assessment tax scam

Esther Shaw

Consumers who have to file a self-assessment tax return by January 31 are being urged to be vigilant as fraudsters are likely to strike as the deadline approaches. We explain which scams to look out for.



Get Safe Online, an internet awareness organisation, warns that over the next few weeks, there could be an abundance of tax scams as fraudsters look to prey on unsuspecting taxpayers.

What type of scams do you need to be aware of?

Self-employed workers and other individuals who need to file their tax affairs online by the end of the month need to keep an eye out for phishing emails claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

These scam messages often request personal or payment information. But if you provide this, this could give criminals access to your card accounts, enabling them to steal money.

What should you look out for?

There are a number of tell-tale signs which could indicate that a message is a scam:

  • Emails where the sender’s address is different from the trusted organisation’s website address.

  • Emails sent from a completely different address or webmail address.

  • Messages which use a non-specific greeting, such as “Dear Customer”.

  • A sense of urgency; for example, the threat that unless you act immediately, your account may be closed.

  • Also beware of emails with attachments which could contain viruses designed to steal personal or financial information.

Read about five scams to steal your identity.

Tips to avoid getting scammed

  • The key thing to remember is that HMRC will never inform you about a tax rebate or penalty over email or text.

  • If you do receive an email asking for personal information, such as your username, password or bank details, report it immediately to ensure you don’t fall victim. Forward suspect emails to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

  • If you are unsure about an email with an attachment, do not open it or forward it. Delete it immediately.

Read more tips to beat the scammers.

Watch out for hoax websites

As well as scam emails, you also need to be on your guard when surfing the net, as a raft of hoax websites are likely to appear this month. This could include copycat websites that promise to renew anything from passports to driving licences.

These could trick you into paying for a service which you could get more cheaply – or for free – if you used the official Government service. The best approach is to stay alert and if you have a suspicion the site is not what it says it is, leave the site.

How to report a fraud

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling (0300) 123 2040 or go to Actionfraud.police.uk.

Read our guide for victims of identity fraud.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.