Fraudsters Use Text Messages to Scam Thousands

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Sending and receiving text messages has become part of daily life for most people, but some messages are from fraudsters trying to trick unwary people out of some money.

The problem is so great, HM Revenue & Customs has come up with a simple way to test if a message offering a tax refund is genuine.

Scammers send out hundreds and thousands of bogus text and email messages purporting to come from the tax authority that look like the real thing every year.

Most are phishing for personal information that will give the scammers access to a bank account.

HMRC wants taxpayers to know that staff will never ask for bank details or passwords and that information about tax and finances is never sent online.

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What to do with scam texts

“No one should reply if they get a text message or email from HMRC offering a tax refund in exchange for personal or financial information,” said a spokesman.

“It’s a good idea not to click on any links in the message as they could trigger loading software that might steal data from a device.”

Taxpayers receiving a message that seems to come from HMRC should text them to 60599 (network charges apply) or email phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and then delete the message.

HMRC also warns that any messages that come through apps like WhatsApp or Snapchat are from scammers.

Avoid premium call numbers

Also avoid ringing back numbers that are listed on a smart device as missed calls.

if they start 084, 087, 080 or 090, then they are premium numbers likely to charge back the call to the account on the SIM card in the device.

“Be cautious about answering calls and text messages from numbers you don’t recognise that start with these codes,” said a police Action Fraud spokesman.

“Communications with these numbers may be charged at premium rates. If someone really needs to get in touch with you, they’ll leave a voicemail or contact you by other means.

“If you don’t require the ability to contact premium rate numbers, or you want to ensure you don’t accidentally contact numbers such as these, speak with your mobile provider about barring calls and text messages to them.”

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