HMRC warns self-employed over rise in scam tax refund offers

HMRC warns self-employed over rise in scam tax refund offers
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Thu 15th Feb 2024

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has urged people to be wary of bogus tax refund offers after it responded to 207,800 referrals from the public of suspicious contact in the year to January.

The figure was up 14% from the 181,873 messages reported in the previous 12 months. Over 79,000 were fake tax rebates.

With more than 11.5m people submitting a 2022/23 Self Assessment tax return by the 31 January deadline, HMRC said taxpayers might be taken in by an email, phone call or text message offering a tax refund.

Scammers copy the design of genuine websites and send phishing messages which aim to use personal details to access bank accounts or sell on to other criminals.

Example of a scam tax debate email:

hmrc scam email

HMRC said it will not email, text or phone a taxpayer to tell them that they are due a refund or ask them to request a refund. People receive repayments in their bank account, and can see any transactions in their online HMRC account and in the HMRC app.

You can report suspicious communications by forwarding emails to, submitting details of scam phone calls here, and forwarding suspicious texts claiming to be from HMRC to 60599. You can check if a contact is genuinely from HMRC here.

Kelly Paterson, HMRC's chief security officer, said:

"With the deadline for tax returns behind us, criminals will now try to trick people with fake offers of tax rebates.

"Scammers will attempt to dupe people by email, phone or texts that mimic government messages to make them appear authentic.

"Don't rush into anything, take your time and check HMRC scams advice on GOV.UK."

The HMRC warning follows the launch earlier this week by the Home Office of the new 'Stop! Think Fraud' campaign. It provides advice on how to stay safe online.

In the year to September 2023, one in 17 adults in England and Wales were victims of fraud.

Join a webinar on 29 February at 11am: Why small businesses should take cyber security seriously

Relevant resources

Are you making these cyber security mistakes in your business?

Cyber security for small businesses: A basic guide

Top cyber security threats and how to tackle them

Webinar: Five reasons to update your digital security

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance journalist and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's news reporter and Bristol Local Leader. I have 20 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I now freelance for Enterprise Nation as the website's news reporter and as the host of the Small Business sessions podcast. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community in my role as Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I also have strong connections with other major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 100 events including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands like Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography.

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