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Published on 10 February 2022

Beware telephone scammers pretending to be HMRC

Please watch out for calls from people pretending to be from HMRC, which seem to be doing the rounds again! If you get a call, even if you don’t fall for it, somebody more vulnerable might. You should complete HMRC’s new form to report the incident, so HMRC can try and close down the scam.

Illustration of a mobile phone with a scammer next to it
Credit: MaDedee /

Content on this page:

What is the scam?

We have had several recent reports of people receiving telephone calls from someone claiming to be from HMRC.

The calls in questions have come from a mobile number. They have involved an automated message explaining that there is a problem with your HMRC account and directing you to press 1 to speak to HMRC for more details.

This is not a genuine HMRC call.

What should I do if I get a call?

Please hang up – do not press 1.

If you press 1, you will be put through to the scammer who may well be in a different country. It is highly likely that the scammer will request a payment or personal information such as bank details to avoid the ‘problem’ with your HMRC account. Even if you realise that it is a scam and hang up before giving the scammers any information, because the call may be routed to a different country, you could get a costly phone bill.

If you press 1 and fall victim to the scam, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

What other scams are there?

The ’press 1 to speak to HMRC’ call is just one example of the type of call that may be used by the scammers. The scam calls may come in different formats and may even come from a ‘spoofed’ HMRC number (a phone number that is made to look like they’re part of HMRC when they’re not). Which? has obtained two recordings of the automated scam phone calls. Watch the video on their website, so you know what it sounds like so you don’t get caught out.

How can I help HMRC and other people?

To help HMRC investigate scam calls, if you get a call, please share the details on HMRC’s new suspicious phone call reporting form

Details requested include the:

  • date of the call
  • phone number used
  • content of the call

You’ll need to give your email address. HMRC will give you a reference number for your report and say the information you provide will help the combat fraud, although it is unlikely that they will be able to provide you with an update on your specific case.

HMRC have recently issued a press release outlining some success that they have had in tackling phone scams. HMRC reference this new reporting facility in the press release and say ‘As part of HMRC’s action to combat voice scams, the department has set up a direct referral route on GOV.UK where people can report HMRC-related telephone phishing’.

Further reading

HMRC have shared a checklist on GOV.UK which can be used to decide if the contact you have received is a scam. You can use it for phone calls, emails and text messages.

A contact could be a scam if it:

  • Rushes you
  • Has a threatening tone
  • Is unexpected
  • Asks for personal information like bank details
  • Tells you to transfer money
  • Offers a refund, tax rebate or grant

You can view examples of HMRC-related phishing email, scam and phone call content on the GOV.UK website here.

You can find descriptions on GOV.UK of genuine emails, phone calls, letters and text messages recently issued by HMRC to help you decide if a contact is a scam. The lists are organised by subject in alphabetical order. Not every possible HMRC communication is included.

Official guidance on avoiding and reporting internet scams and phishing can be found on GOV.UK, including what to do if you have fallen victim.

Our guidance on other techniques that scammers may use can be found on our website. 

More general guidance on protecting yourself online published by the National Centre for Cyber Security can be found on GOV.UK.

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