Warning on HMRC scam phone calls targeting early years providers

Over the past few days, the Alliance has seen a number of reports from providers who have received phone calls from someone claiming to be an “enforcement officer” at HMRC, demanding payment of an outstanding invoice.

These phone calls targetting early years providers form part of a wider trend that has seen a huge increase in the number of scams reported to HMRC since the start of this year.

HMRC says that it received 33,053 reports of phone scams in January 2021, up from 10,997 in December 2020.

Criminals seem to be targeting taxpayers with threats of legal action over unpaid tax. Other scams take advantage of the pandemic, contacting people with fake offers of government support for their businesses.

HMRC says that a recent scam variant involves criminals calling people saying that their national insurance number has been used fraudulently. This allows the scammers to either demand payment on a fake debt or to harvest victims’ personal and financial details.

Be mindful of scams
An HMRC spokesperson said: “If someone calls, emails or texts claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help, are due a tax refund or owe tax, or asks for bank or other personal details, it might be a scam. Check GOVUK for our scams checklist and to find out how to report tax scams.

“If you can’t verify the identity of the caller, HMRC recommends that you do not speak to them.”

Report possible scams to HMRC
You can report suspicious emails, texts and phone calls to HMRC here.

HMRC also had the following advice for providers:

Stop:  

  • Take a moment to think before parting with your information or money.  
  • Don’t give out private information or reply to text messages, and don’t download attachments or click on links in texts or emails you weren’t expecting.

Challenge:  

  • It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests - only criminals will try to rush or panic you. 
  • Search ‘scams’ on GOVUK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact and how to avoid and report scams.  

Protect: 

  • Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599.  
  • Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, and report it to Action Fraud.