Taxpayers warned of email scam

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TAXPAYERS have been told to be on their guard as fraudsters step up their scams.

Northumberland Trading Standards is warning of a council tax telephone scam, while HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has reported fake ‘phishing’ emails about tax returns.

In the council tax con, residents are called by someone claiming to be from a national council tax authority and told they have been selected for a refund.

Head of Northumberland Trading Standards Alan Kirsop said: “Please be vigilant against this scam. Council Tax is collected at local level, not by a national body, so if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from a national council tax authority please put the phone down and do not give out your bank details under any circumstances.”

Anyone who thinks they may be a victim of the scam should contact their bank or building society immediately.

If someone claiming to be from Northumberland County Council calls, ask for their name and extension number, then phone the authority on 0845 600 6400 to check the details are genuine.

HMRC meanwhile is warning that following the Self Assessment tax return filing deadline last month, people are being contacted by e-mail and told they are due a rebate. There is a click-through link to a replica of the HMRC website and the recipient is asked to give their credit card details.

In the last three months, HMRC has shut down 99 websites associated with the fake e-mails.

Director of Customer Contact Chris Hopson said: “As a matter of policy, HMRC will only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post.

“If anyone receives an e-mail offering a tax rebate claiming to be from HMRC, we recommend they send it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting it permanently.”