HMRC issues important warning over potentially costly telephone scams

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has issued a warning about a new tax scam tricking victims into handing over thousands of pounds.

The tax office said fraudsters are preying on victims by cold calling them and impersonating an HMRC member of staff.

Once they’ve gained the victim’s trust, the scammer will tell them they owe large amounts of tax, which they can only pay off using digital vouchers and gift cards.

HMRC says Apple’s iTunes Store cards are among those being requested.

According to figures from police crime watchdog Action Fraud, there have been more than 1,500 reported cases of this kind of scam, with the average victim suffering financial losses of around £1,150.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Director General of Customer Services, said the tax office itself “would never request the settling of debt through such a method”.

She said: “These scammers are very confident, convincing and utterly ruthless. We don’t want to see anyone fall victim to this scam just before Christmas. That’s why we’re working closely with crime fighters to ensure taxpayers know how to avoid it,” she said.

“These scams often prey on vulnerable people. We urge people with elderly relatives to warn them about this scam and remind them that they should never trust anyone who phones them out of the blue and asks them to pay a tax bill. If you think you have been a victim, you should contact Action Fraud immediately.”

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