A man has warned against answering scam calls after he was told he was being taken to court.
David Miller, 79, of Ringmer Road, Worthing, received the call last Tuesday. The automated message said it was from HMRC and that he was being taken to court for non-payment of tax, and to press one to speak to an advisor.
Mr Miller hung up and dialled 1471 to retreive the number. He then dialled it to find out who it was that called him.
He said: “The person who answered had a foreign accent. They said ‘HMRC, how can I help you?’
“I said my name is Miller and I have been contacted by yourselves to say I’m being taken to court.
“They wanted my first name, so I said ‘That doesn’t matter because I’m trying to establish who you are’, and then they put the phone down.”
Mr Miller then called Trading Standards which put him through to Citizens Advice, at which point he was told they could not trace the number without an address.
“Luckily I saw it for what it was, but someone else who hasn’t got their wits about them could be reeled in quite easily.”
He said his daughter, who lives in Broomfield Avenue, Worthing had also received a similar call.
“It’s an abusive use of your number. There are so many ways of scamming people; fortunately I’m computer illiterate in this case!”
A spokesperson for HMRC said that telephone-based attacks against customers had increased recently and reminded people to be vigilant.
“HMRC takes security extremely seriously, but the public need to be alert.
“HMRC is a well-known brand and like many other brands, criminals attempt to abuse it to add credibility to their scams.
“Some are online, others rely on post and phone. We are aware that some people have received telephone calls from individuals claiming to be from HMRC.
“We recommend that if you cannot verify the identity of a caller that you do not speak to them.
“We encourage you to check gov.uk for information on how to avoid and report scams, recognise genuine HMRC contact and make payments to HMRC.” They added that some of these bogus callers are encouraging people to provide bank account or personal details for alleged tax debts, in exchange for ‘tax advice’ or a bogus refund.
Calls to and from most HMRC offices start with the prefix 0300 or 0345.
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