HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed it is boosting its online protection ahead of the 31st January 2016 self-assessment tax return deadline.The tax authority is calling on all of its customers to remain vigilant by keeping their personal details safe online when filing their returns.In the next six weeks, HMRC will be issuing as many as one-million self-assessment emails to customers, reminding them of the impending 31st January deadline.HMRC is undoubtedly one of the most phished brands in the world and has strict protocol in place to help customers protect themselves against scammers emailing customers.It’s at this time of the year, with the self-assessment deadline approaching, that scammers carry out increasingly sophisticated frauds. This is often achieved by distributing phishing emails that, on the surface, appear relevant and – more importantly – wholly genuine.How to check that your HMRC emails are genuine or fraudulentAn HMRC email to customers about personal tax or tax credits will never include or ask for the following:
Personal or financial information of any sort; this includes the customer’s full address, full postcode, Unique Tax Reference (UTR), or any bank details.
Financial information which refers to specific figures, tax computations or specific facts about a customer.
An offer of a repayment or refund.
A personal HMRC email address to send a response to.
HMRC asks all customers to be vigilant when filing their online tax return for the 2014-15 tax year. You can keep your personal data safe by ensuring your computer has up-to-date anti-virus protection, the latest version of their internet browser and by keeping passwords safe and changing them regularly.Jonathan Lloyd White, director of security and information and departmental security officer (DSO), HMRC, said: “Handling the personal details of every taxpayer in the country is a huge responsibility and the security of this data, especially online, is a top priority for HMRC.“We are committed to customers’ online security, but the methods that fraudsters use to get information are constantly changing so people need to be alert.“When using our online services I would urge all our customers to be vigilant, and remember that HMRC will never send an email to ask for your personal information or password, or include a link or attachment.“We want to help you stay safe online. Visit cyberstreetwise.com for more advice.”HMRC is not tasked with ensuring you pay the correct amount of tax within your self-assessment tax return. If you are unsure of your tax liabilities then you should consult a professional.Your local TaxAssist Accountant can work with you to take the worry away when it comes to your 2014-15 tax return, filing it ahead of the deadline to avoid HMRC’s late filing penalties and allow you to concentrate on running your business.