Individuals submitting their tax returns this month are being warned to make sure that they use the correct website.
A number of people filing their returns in a hurry have been duped into using bogus websites that look and feel very similar to the HMRC official site.
Unfortunately these other sites rank top in the search engines, such as Google or Yahoo, and if you don’t know better then it’s easy to click the first link in the list and be tricked into paying hundreds of pounds to submit a tax return, which you could do yourself for free.
In recent years there has been a huge growth in copycat websites such as this designed to trap site visitors into paying fees in the belief that they are dealing with official government departments. They pay huge amounts of money to appear at the top of a search results list and prey on people who don’t realise that these adverts are paid for.
Sadly this confusion online is not limited to HMRC and the self-assessment tax return filing software. Others have been duped when applying for passports, driving licences, national insurance numbers and much more.
This week it has been widely reported how the advertising watchdog has ordered a website, designed to dupe unwary motorists into paying extra fees for the London congestion charge, to make significant changes to it’s site to make it clearer that they are not endorsed or in any way linked to TFL. It is expected that many more challenges of this nature are on the horizon.
Our advice to anyone filing their tax return this month is to ensure that the URL for the website you visit ends with gov.uk, as only official government departments are entitled to use this in their website address.
To file your self-assessment visit www.hmrc.gov.uk or for help call a4c on 01737 652 852.