HMRC warns households of rise in landline tax scams

HMRC has urged UK households with a landline number to be vigilant following a significant rise in landline tax scams.

HMRC recently moved to crack down on email and SMS phishing scams. As a result, many criminals are now turning to the more traditional method of cold-calling publicly available phone numbers, including landline numbers.

The Revenue recently revealed that, in the six months to January 2019, it received more than 60,000 reports of phone scams – an increase of 360% when compared to the previous six months. According to HMRC, phone scams are typically targeted at the elderly and the vulnerable. Criminals often pose as HMRC to 'add credibility' and convince their victims.

HMRC has been working with phone networks and regulator Ofcom to close nearly 450 phone lines that have been used by criminals. Ofcom estimates that 26 million homes have a landline, many of which could be at risk from scams.

Commenting on the issue, Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: 'If you receive a suspicious call to your landline from someone purporting to be from HMRC which threatens legal action, to put you in jail, or payment using vouchers: hang up and report it to HMRC, who can work to take them off the network.'

Any suspicious emails, phone calls or text messages received should be reported to HMRC or Action Fraud.