Beware of fraudulent tax refund offers following Self-Assessment

With over 11.5 million returns submitted by the 31 January deadline, Self-Assessment season has given rise to bogus rebate offers – with Hereford and Ludlow-based accountancy firm Thorne Widgery warning that personal details and banking information could be at risk.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has reported a steep increase in the number of suspicious activity reports it has received – up by 14 per cent from the previous year.

However, Thorne Widgery cautions, this is not the most alarming statistic. Far more concerning, it says, is the fact that 38 per cent of these – over 79,000 – were over fraudulent tax rebates relating to the recent Self-Assessment deadline.

The firm has urged business owners and sole traders to be vigilant and consider the advice published by HMRC, including:

  • Don’t rush into providing sensitive information
  • HMRC will not email, text or phone customers to tell them they are due a refund
  • Stay updated on potential scam activity
  • Report all suspicious activity to HMRC

Daniel Crowther, CEO at Thorne Widgery said: “Tax contributions are a substantial cost for many small businesses and sole traders which submit through Self-Assessment, so we understand that rebates can provide invaluable additional cash flow.

“When rebates are offered on a fraudulent basis, it takes advantage of the financial needs of the majority of UK businesses.

“For those who are targeted, we urge you to proceed with caution and only make or receive payments through the official HMRC portal.

“Take the time to identify anything suspicious about communications you receive and, if in doubt, check scams advice from HMRC and report suspicious emails or phone calls on GOV.UK.”