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"A criminal case is registered against your name for tax fraud" HMRC scam calls in the UK

"This call is to notify you that a criminal case is registered against your name for tax evasion and tax fraud by HMRC. We are investigating your financial activities and an arrest warrant has been issued under your name. Get more information about this case. Press 1 before we proceed with legal action. Thank you."

That is just one example of a scam call impersonating Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that is making its way across the UK. According to Hiya’s data, HMRC scams are among the most common phone scams in the UK.

Many varieties of HMRC phone scams

There are many varieties of HMRC tax scams, but they all aim to steal an unsuspecting victim’s money or personal information. Below is another transcript of an HMRC scam. 

“Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. An official letter sent to you got returned back to HMRC documentation department. Legal actions will be initiated against you shortly. Please press 1 to speak to our officer.”

The Hiya honeypot, a collection of Hiya-owned phone numbers, captured the wording of these HMRC robocalls. Calls in the honeypot are analyzed so that future calls can be blocked or flagged as spam for users of Hiya’s call protection solution Hiya Protect.  


HMRC tax scams in the UK@2x

HMRC scams surged during January 2024, as January 31 is the UK's deadline for filing online tax returns. 

UK government warns of HMRC scams

In October 2023, the UK government issued a press release warning UK residents to be on the lookout for tax scams, saying: 

With around 12 million people expected to submit a self-assessment tax return for the 2022 to 2023 tax year before the 31 January 2024 deadline, fraudsters will prey on customers by impersonating HMRC. HM Revenue and Customs has received more than 130,000 reports about tax scams in the 12 months prior to September 2023, of which 58,000 were offering fake tax rebates. 

HMRC mentions three of the most common tax scams reported to them:

  • An offer of a tax rebateScammers are trying to obtain a bank account number, claiming it’s needed to deposit the tax rebate directly. 

  • Request to update tax detailsAn effort to obtain personal and financial information.

  • Threat of immediate arrest for tax evasionThis is meant to frighten taxpayers into connecting with a phony tax agent who will proceed to scam them (as seen in the transcript at the top of this page).

The UK government maintains a webpage offering citizens advice on how to identify tax scams. It even provides examples of current HMRC scams that arrive via phone, email or text. The government advises those who have suffered financial losses from HMRC phone scams to report it to Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting center. 

What Hiya users are reporting about HMRC scams

In addition to the honeypot, Hiya monitors user reports from consumers using Hiya Protect via their carrier, device manufacturer, or the Hiya mobile app. User reports from the U.K. reveal the wide variety of HMRC scams. Here’s a sampling of what users are reporting:

  • “Told me they are from HMRC and asked for my bank details.”

  • Claiming to be from HMRC and making threats that the police will arrest me when I wouldn't give personal information.

  • “Supposedly from HMRC concerning a PPI payment I received 4-5 years ago! I have never had one, but what if I had! She knew my name, how?

While some users reported that the HMRC scam call they received was “very convincing,” others were not fooled. A number of users reported irregularities that tipped them off that it was a scam:

  • “Claims to be HMRC in an American accent!”

  • “Call from Moscow reporting they are HMRC.”

  • “Said they were HMRC, from a mobile number!!!”

How to fight back against HMRC phone scams

Although HMRC phone scams continue to be a threat, Hiya offers several solutions to help fight back against these scams.   

Scammers are constantly changing their tactics, so carriers must implement a solution that can adapt to ever-changing tactics. Hiya Protect, Hiya’s voice security solution for mobile network carriers, is the industry’s only self-learning call protection system that adjusts to the latest fraud and nuisance calls.

The ever-increasing volume of fraudulent calls causes consumers to be wary of any unidentified call. Hiya Connect solves that problem for enterprises. Its branded caller ID enables businesses to display their company name, logo, and reason for the call on the recipient’s mobile phone.    

Individuals can check with their phone carrier to see if it offers call protection at the network level. Individuals can protect themselves by downloading the Hiya app if it doesn't.  

Author Hiya Team