HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is warning tax credit claimants to be aware of scams and fraudsters who impersonate the department with the aim of stealing their personal information or money.

About 2.1 million tax credit customers are expected to renew their annual claims by July 31, 2022 and may be more susceptible to tactics used by criminals who mimic government messages to make them appear authentic.

In the 12 months to April 2022, HMRC responded to almost 277,000 referrals of suspicious contacts received from the public. Fraudsters use phone calls, text messages and emails to try to dupe individuals – often trying to rush them into making decisions. HMRC won’t call anyone out of the blue to threaten arrest – only criminals do.

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Typical examples of scams include:

  • phone calls threatening arrest if people do not immediately pay the shadow tax due. Sometimes they claim the victim’s national insurance number was used fraudulently
  • emails or text messages offering bogus tax refunds, fake COVID-19 grants, or claiming that a direct debit payment has failed

Myrtle Lloyd, Director General of Client Services at HMRC, said:

“We urge all of our customers to be very cautious if they are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or bank details.

“There are a lot of scams out there where fraudsters call, text or email customers claiming to be HMRC. If in doubt we suggest you don’t reply directly and contact us Search GOV.UK for our ‘scam checklist’ and find out ‘how to report tax scams’.

HMRC does not charge tax credit customers for renewing their annual claims and also urges them to be alert to misleading websites or advertisements designed to charge them for government services that should be free, often charging to connect to HMRC helplines.

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Customers can renew their tax credits for free via or the HMRC app.

Tax Credits are ending and will be replaced by Universal Credit by the end of 2024. Many customers who switch from Tax Credits to Universal Credit may be better off financially and can use an independent benefit calculator to to verify.

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