Taxpayers warned over fraudsters using fake QR codes

Taxpayers who use QR codes to make payments on their mobile devices have been warned by HMRC to beware of scammers.

HMRC includes QR codes on a welcome letter it posts to taxpayers who are newly registered for Self-Assessment, which takes them to the authority’s advice pages.

The QR code is only displayed when the taxpayers first log into their HMRC online account through the Government Gateway, on a desktop browser.

Once that has been completed, taxpayers can scan the code with a mobile device, which allows them to make a payment.

Online account

HMRC says taxpayers should only use a QR code that is presented to them while logged into their HMRC account, via the Government Gateway.

Payment details displayed on their mobile banking platform should match those shown in their HMRC online account. 

HMRC says if a taxpayer receives a QR code via email or another electronic message, it is a scam and taxpayers are encouraged to report it.

Helpline advice

HMRC added that from January this year, it may send a text message if taxpayers call one of their helplines from a mobile phone.

The caller will be told to expect a text message immediately or shortly after the call, which may send a link to the relevant GOV.UK information or a webchat.

HMRC says it will never ask for personal or financial information when sending text messages. It warns not to open any links or reply to a text message claiming to be from HMRC that offers you a tax refund in exchange for personal or financial details.

Reporting suspicious activity

Scammers often pretend to be HMRC by texting or emailing a link that will take customers to a false web page, where their bank details and money will be stolen. Fraudsters are also known to threaten victims with arrest or imprisonment if a bogus tax bill is not paid immediately.

People can report suspicious phone calls using a form on GOV.UK; customers can also forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599.

Anyone who is in doubt about whether a website is genuine should visit GOV.UK for more information about Self-Assessment and use the free signposted tax return forms.

Having problems with Self-Assessment and related tax matters? Contact us today.

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