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Scam Awareness

At this time of year we will be starting to hear adverts on TV and radio urging people to have their personal tax affairs in order for the end of the Financial Year.

What you should not be receiving is unwarranted emails, text messages or telephone calls from people saying they are from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) tax office. The Tax Office will never approach people in this way and will always write to you should there be any query with your tax affairs.

Whilst these “HMRC scams”, as they are known, are sporadic and happen all year round it would appear that they may well target people coming up to the end-of-year deadlines as people are more likely to believe the call is genuine. In some of these calls the scammer will be very forceful and threaten the victim with heavy fines or even arrest should they not give in to their demands. Very often they will urge the victim to go out and purchase a large volume of iTunes or similar vouchers and provide them with the serial number. Once you hand over the serial numbers the vouchers are useless to you and the scammer will be in possession of the money. Unfortunately it may be impossible to get the vouchers refunded in these circumstances even if you are the victim of fraud.

Police advice is to talk about this scam with friends and relatives who may not follow the news and social media to alert them to this scam. These criminals target random phone numbers and may well happen upon a vulnerable person who is unaware of the scam.

If you are unsure who a caller is do not provide them with your personal details and call the PSNI on 101 to ask for advice.

Further good advice may be found at www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni