Austen Shakespeare

HMRC figures show phone scams are down 97 per cent from last year

According to the latest HMRC figures, reports of scam HMRC phone calls have fallen by 97 per cent over the last year.

Reports of scammers impersonating HMRC in phone calls peaked at 79,477 in March 2021 and fell to just 2,491 in December 2021. The fall in scam call reports to HMRC has also been seen elsewhere with an 92 per cent drop in phishing email reports and a 97 per cent drop in scam text reports over the last year.

HMRC has stated these results are testament to some of the work of teams across HMRC in tackling these attempts to defraud people, including dedicated customer protection teams and helplines, tools to refer scams, and use of technology.

It also signals that the public is more aware of cyber criminals and the methods they use to trick people, in part thanks to HMRC’s awareness raising efforts, meaning fewer members of the public have been the subject of scammers and attempts to steal their money.

Mike Fell, HMRC’s head of cyber security operations, said: “We work incredibly hard to protect the public from these criminals who ruin lives by stealing from people. It’s great news that fewer people are receiving and reporting these attempted frauds, but it is still important they continue to report suspicious contact to us.

“We will continue to do everything we can to protect the public from these cynical attempts to impersonate HMRC to steal from people. Our advice is - never let yourself be rushed. If someone contacts you saying they are from HMRC, wanting you to urgently transfer money or give personal information, be on your guard.

“HMRC will never ring up threatening arrest, only criminals do that. Contacts like these should set alarm bells ringing, so take your time and check HMRC scams advice on GOV.UK.”

More recently, new controls have prevented 90 per cent of the most convincing text messages from reaching the public and joint working with industry partners has prevented the spoofing of most of HMRC’s helpline numbers.

In the last year, HMRC has responded to 670,793 referrals of suspicious contact from the public, with 283,157 of these cases offering bogus tax rebates. Others threaten arrest for tax evasion or offer fake financial support.

HMRC also works with the telecoms industry to remove phone numbers being used to commit HMRC-related phone scams. In December 2021, four phone numbers being used to commit HMRC-related phone scams were removed, which is likely to have prevented hundreds of scam calls being made.

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