19th Dec, 2018

Warning as HMRC 'tax office' phone call tries to defraud Redditch woman

BEWARE fraudsters trying to get their hands on your money – that’s the message from one Redditch woman who had to deal with a phone call from someone claiming to be from the tax office.

The call came through to Phyllis Stewart’s mobile phone, an accent-less woman’s voice purportedly from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) threatening her with dire consequences if she didn’t pay an outstanding tax bill.

“I receive so many of these types of call that I wasn’t paying any attention at first but she was very threatening and I suddenly thought how this might frighten an elderly person into handing over their bank details,” said Phyllis.

“I thought it must have been a recorded message because there was no way you could talk back to this person, they just kept on.

“She had a deep authoritative voice, saying ‘I would feel the full force of the law’ if I did not comply. It was very nasty.”

The ‘HMRC’ number – 0161 818 4663 – a Manchester one, was recorded on the Winyates resident’s phone and we gave it a call.

It was answered almost immediately by a man with a south Asian accent.

When we told him we were ringing on behalf of one of our readers, he immediately put the telephone down.

When we tried a while later the same man answered, refused to give him name, and put the phone down.

Coincidently, Warwickshire Trading Standards this week put out a warning on fraudsters claiming to be from HMRC.

County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “Whilst most people see through these scam calls and put the phone down, unfortunately some vulnerable people can and do fall victim, losing thousands of pounds as a consequence.

“If you have a vulnerable family member, neighbour or friend, make sure they are aware of this scam and how they can protect themselves.”

Warwickshire Trading Standards has seen an increase in the number of complaints in the past month relating to bogus HMRC phone calls, emails and texts.

Many of the calls relate to demands for payment, but some also concern bogus tax refunds.

In these cases residents are asked for personal and financial information that can then be used for identity theft and are normally asked to pay money in advance to receive their non-existent refund.

Officers say:

• HMRC will never use texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ask for payment using iTunes gift card voucher codes or similar.

• Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should never trust the number you see on your telephone’s display.

• If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately.

For more information visit Action Fraud: www.actionfraud.police.uk/

To receive scam alerts to your email inbox visit: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/scams

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