HMRC has announced that it has saved the public over £2.4m by tackling fraudsters that trick them into using premium rate phone numbers for services that HMRC provide for free.
HMRC has reported that scammers create websites that look similar to HMRC’s official site and then direct the public to call numbers with extortionate costs in comparison to the low cost and no cost services that HMRC provides.
These websites promote premium rate phone numbers as a means of phoning HMRC but these are call forwarding services which connect the unsuspecting to HMRC at a premium rate.
HMRC has confirmed that its genuine 0300 numbers are mainly free or charged at the local landline rate. In other cases, websites charge for forwarding information to HMRC which can be provided free of charge via GOV.UK website.
HMRC has successfully challenged the ownership of these websites, masquerading as official websites, and removed them from the hands of cheats. Analysis carried out shows that had HMRC not taken this action then the public would have lost £2.4m to these scams.
Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury said:
‘We know that HMRC is the most spoofed government brand as criminals try to take advantage of the fact that everyone has some involvement with the tax authority. In this particular case, scammers try to dupe the public into paying large sums for services that are available for free or low cost.’
‘This is a brazen con, charging premium rates whilst simply redirecting calls to the real HMRC numbers that are available at low or no cost. It is a testament to the hard work of HMRC that they have prevented criminals extracting £2.4m from the public.’
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