8th January 2020

HMRC tax scam messages – record number reported

Fake tax messages tops 900k, according to HMRC

The number of HMRC tax scam messages involving bogus communications is increasing and particularly as the self assessment payment deadline approaches.

What are the warning signs you should be looking for?

HMRC tax scam - email example
An example of an HMRC tax scam email

The number and type of HMRC tax scam is rising. According to HMRC statistics, in 2018/19 it received around 900,000 reports about possible scams involving tax.

This is a staggering figure given that most people don’t bother to tell HMRC about them.

Dodgy phone calls

While HMRC does contact people by phone about their tax, usually when there’s overdue tax to pay, you’ll usually be aware that you own money and, at least broadly, how much.

You will have received a string of demands and statements from HMRC before it resorts to phone calls. So a call out of the blue suggesting you owe money is almost bound to be an HMRC tax scam.

Don’t engage in any discussion or provide any information. Hang up immediately and do not return the call on any number you’re given as this can trigger charges.

If you’re concerned that you owe tax, use the contact details provided on GOV.UK web pages to get in touch with HMRC.


HMRC will never ask you for personal or financial information by text. Don’t respond to a text message or open any links it contains.


Emails and letters can – but often don’t – appear convincing and include a genuine looking HMRC logo. They will typically include links to tax refund/payment claim web pages.

If in any doubt check HMRC’s website which contains examples of scams.

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