After a surge in new small and microbusinesses over the past year, The Accountancy Partnership is warning that these first-time business owners should be particularly cautious of any communications they receive from HM Revenue and Customs in the coming months.
Redundancies, furlough and general job uncertainty have triggered an increase in entrepreneurship, with 566,957 new incorporations between January and September. Thousands of newly self-employed businesspeople will be submitting accounts and tax returns for the first time and, therefore, may not spot fake phishing communications from fraudsters posing as HMRC.
The UK’s tax, payments and customs authority has warned that the Self Assessment tax deadline on January 31, 2021 is an opportunity for criminals – and those filing tax returns should take care to avoid being caught out.
BOGUS TAX REBATES
Fraudulent HMRC communications have already become commonplace this year, as thousands of members of the public have reported scams based on the coronavirus pandemic. Fraudsters use phone, email or texts to contact their victims, primarily offering them bogus tax rebates with the aim of extracting their personal details, and particularly their bank details.
HMRC reported that it has responded to more than 846,000 referrals of suspicious contact this year, and Google Trends data shows that searches for ‘HMRC scam’ reached an all-time high in October this year.
Lee Murphy, director at The Accountancy Partnership, said: “There are ways business owners can stay vigilant – never give out personal or business details over the phone or on email, thoroughly investigate any communications you receive from HMRC before clicking on any links. If you receive a call from HMRC, say you will call them back using HMRC’s official phone number.”