SALLY SORTS IT: Tax return fraudster used my name to swindle £6,305
A scammer posed as me and used my details to claim money through a fake tax return.
But HM Revenue & Customs demands that I pay back the £6,305 received by the impostor.
I am struggling to solve the problem. It causes restlessness and sleepless nights.
Crooked claim: A reader is asked to pay £6,305 that a fraudster managed to cheat out of a false tax return from HMRC
With the January 31 online self-assessment tax filing deadline looming, your case comes at the right time and serves as a warning to others to be vigilant about mysterious happenings with their tax returns.
The issue first came to your attention in August 2022 when your accountant went to file your tax return. To his surprise, he was told that one had already been submitted.
Someone had submitted forms under your name via the HRMC online portal. You think this should have raised an immediate red flag with the authorities as you have used this reputable accounting firm to file your return for the last ten years.
Your accountant tried to resolve the issue with the IRS, but got nothing but to obtain a copy of the fraudulent return.
When you examined it, you were shocked that the paperwork contained most of the correct details, including your address, date of birth, social security number, and unique taxpayer reference number, plus details about your military pension and your P11D (the form employers send to the IRS a statement of the present value of any work-related taxable expenses and benefits received that are not included in an employee’s wages).
The impostor had claimed a total of £6,305 in P11D costs for travel, gift aid and professional body fees. You never made a claim for any of these things.
But the crook had neglected to apply for foreign tax credits, which you have done every year for the past eight years while working and paying taxes abroad. You always claimed an amount of approximately € 12,000. You think this should have been a second red flag.
The third warning sign was that the tax refund had been deposited into an account at Tide Bank, a bank you had never heard of. The bill wasn’t even in your name. When you contacted Tide, the name used would not be revealed.
The false report was also made to an account opened on the HMRC website using a Hotmail email address with your name, but the first letter was removed. You’ve never used Hotmail.
When the fraud was reported in September, your real account was subsequently unlocked so that your accountant could file the correct return. But he did not want to do this until the matter was fully resolved.
You were rightly asked by the tax authorities to repay the £6,305, so the problem had not gone away.
You feared that your reputation had been tarnished by this scam artist and you wanted to clear your name as soon as possible and be able to file your proper tax returns – and get the real tax credit you owed.
I have asked the Tax and Customs Administration to investigate why it took so long to confirm that there had been fraud on your account. Several weeks passed. But on January 3, a resolution was confirmed.
A spokesperson said: “We have closed the fraudulent account, corrected his details and apologized for the time it has taken to resolve this.”
Finally, you can breathe a sigh of relief and submit your real papers. You have been given a new unique tax number.
I was surprised that a fraudster would go this far. However, figures from the Tax and Customs Administration show that this type of fraud is not uncommon.
The annual report states that in 2020-2021 there was a ‘significant increase in criminal attacks against the self-assessment system’.
It states that it has also stepped up its fight to limit such incidents, preventing £1.5 billion from being stolen during that period.
You did not know how your data was compromised and the tax authorities did not know either.
It says that criminals use many methods to obtain personal information from individuals, including theft; buying from other criminals; computer viruses that steal data, including malware; and “phishing” emails that trick people into giving out confidential information.
Especially at this time of year, taxpayers need to keep their wits about them. Scammers are ready to take advantage of this by sending text messages or emails claiming to be from HMRC. These often promise tax reductions or threats of arrest if tax bills are not paid.
The messages may also claim that the victim’s social security number has been used fraudulently, causing people to panic into reaching out and inadvertently divulging more personal details.
The tax authorities would never send such messages. Those who submit a self-assessment for the first time are particularly at risk because they are less likely to know the tricks of the trade.
Forward suspicious text messages to 60599 and emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report phone calls about tax fraud on gov.uk.
Why can’t I get a PIN-only Matercard?
I have requested a new Mastercard debit card from Virgin Money. I specifically asked if the new card could be the same as the one it was replacing i.e. a PIN only card instead of a contactless card.
The moderator said it would be the same. But when it arrived it was a contactless version. I complained but Virgin said all its Mastercard offers are now contactless.
I thought this was odd because of what I was told on the phone and the fact that my wife and I have Mastercard PIN-only offers from Santander.
Contactless cards are designed for convenience, making transactions fast for customers, merchants and banks.
It is certainly attractive to reduce the fumbling with cards and PIN codes at payment terminals. Figures from UK Finance show that a third of all payments made last year were contactless.
However, not everyone is thrilled. A close friend had taken his contactless card from his jacket pocket while in a pub and the thief went on a rampage with numerous local shopkeepers. Fortunately, the fraudulent expenses were refunded.
But he felt contactless gave criminals a good reason to pickpocket in the first place, even more so after contactless limits rose from £45 to £100 in October 2021.
Banks defend the system by saying that the PIN is required every so often, so that fraudulent transactions, if they occur, are nipped in the bud.
However, like my friend, you are afraid that the contactless card will be lost or stolen and then used without your PIN.
You mentioned Santander in your letter, which I found out allows its Mastercard customers (but not Visa) to block contactless if they want to. It also allows cardholders to change the contactless limit in multiples of £5 up to the default limit of £100.
I’ve asked Virgin to reconsider your case and have you disable your card’s contactless feature.
Virgin responded by saying it’s the industry standard to offer contactless. But in certain circumstances, once it looks into the background of a request, it may consider disabling the feature.
With that in mind, someone will contact you to arrange for your card’s contactless feature to be disabled.
- Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email email@example.com – include telephone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organization giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. Please do not send any original documents, we cannot take any responsibility for that. The Daily Mail assumes no legal liability for answers provided.
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