HMRC denies SA security breach

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HMRC has denied a report in the Sunday Times which claimed criminals are hacking into people’s online tax returns.

The Sunday Times highlighted an incident involving Jackie Annesley, the Sunday Times style magazine’s editor, who alleged criminals had falsified her tax return in order to steal £1,826. Annesley received notification concerning suspicious activity occurring on her self assessment account. After the hacking attempt, Annesley said: “You have to think the fraudsters are cleverer than HMRC.”

HMRC has reassured taxpayers and agents that its systems remain secure, and confirmed that there wasn’t a breach in security. HMRC has revealed that they have intercepted more than 17,000 fraudulent or incorrect repayment claims out of the 3.4 million which have been processed.

The incident was likely due to the taxpayer or their agent not keeping their details secure or system secure. Self assessment season saw an increase of phishing emails claiming to be from HMRC. Commenting at the start of January, Brian Spector, MIRACL’s chief executive, warned: “With all the financial data involved in a tax return, a criminal could potentially take out a mortgage in your name. Data theft and identity fraud is a multi-billion dollar business on the dark web, and so consumers must be vigilant.”

An HMRC spokesperson told AccountingWEB: "Our online services have not been hacked and remain secure. We take our obligations around protecting customer data extremely seriously and have systems in place to review suspicious activity and monitor access to accounts. It's only right that when appropriate we contact taxpayers and any agents acting to alert them to any concerns."

HMRC recommends anyone concerned to keep their online credentials safe and to follow best practice regarding changing passwords. They have directed taxpayers and agents to read further advice on the HMRC website.

About Richard Hattersley

Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.


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11th Feb 2016 12:30

Suspect more in then they are letting on.

I had a problem in November when I was contacted by HMRC to say my account had some dodgy activity on it and had to change passwords etc. I beleive a lot of other agents had same issue.

I did this but since changing password I have had loads of issues and my account has been locked a few times since.

THis week I couldnt access it all and when called tech support they asked if anyone else had access to my account, so it was obvious they could see something at their end.

I couldnt obtain new password on line via email for some reason so had to request a new one sent in post.

This is causing a right head ache now as cannot submit VAT returns.

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22nd Apr 2016 18:20

New client registration issues on the Government gateway

Have tried to contact the HMRC all day, to ask why the gateway isn't being populated 5 days after inputting the "client received password".

Was asked by their staff if we wanted to escalate this issue yesterday, as they felt that there had been a stream of calls on this issue.

They don't seem to be taking calls today; shunting the call suggesting that the line was busy?

Has anyone else been in this situation? Is this normal at this time of year?

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