You may have seen in the media that HMRC is alerting people to a scam aimed particularly at older or vulnerable people.
The scammers prey on victims by cold calling them and impersonating an HMRC member of staff. They tell them that they owe large amounts of tax that they can only pay off through digital vouchers and gift cards, including those used for Apple’s iTunes store.
Victims are told to go buy the vouchers and then read out the redemption code to the scammer, who has kept them on the phone. The conmen then sell on the codes or purchase high-value products, all at the victim’s expense.
The scammers frequently use intimidation to get what they want, threatening to seize the victim’s property or involve the police. The use of vouchers is an attractive scam as they are easy to sell and hard to trace once used.
It goes without saying that HMRC would never request the settling of debt through such a method.
Most victims are aged over 65 and suffer an average financial loss of £1,150. The charity Tax Help for Older People has taken many calls from people who have been defrauded by this scam. Practitioners may wish to draw it to the attention of any clients who could be taken in by it.
To report this or any other scam, phone Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online fraud reporting tool.
Check GOV.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact.