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HMRC scam: 85-year-old left shaken after crook threatens arrest

Crooks posing as HMRC are targeting older people (Getty Images)

An 85-year-old woman was left frightened and in shock this week after a HMRC scam caller threatened to come to her house and arrest her for a supposed tax debt.

The call is part of the latest attempt by unscrupulous crooks to prey on vulnerable older people.

MORE: 8 steps you can take today to better protect yourself from identity theft

Now a former pensions minister wants to warn others about the threat and for the authorities to ban cold calls which terrorise people.

‘These people are evil’

Baroness Altmann wants a crackdown on distressing cold calls: Getty Images

Baroness Ros Altmann says people should be made more aware of the cruel activities of bogus conmen who claim to be from HMRC.

“People should be made aware that nobody who calls them out of the blue like this will be bona fide,” she said.

MORE: Martin Lewis hits out at ‘disgusting’ scam companies using his name

“These people are evil and we should ban distressing cold calls like this.”

A debt that didn’t exist

The caller told the woman – who asked to remain anonymous – that she owed the Revenue £4,000.

He claimed she had ignored warning letters and as a result HMRC would be shutting her bank account “within half an hour”.

He also threatened to send someone round to arrest her if she didn’t pay up. The fact that he knew her address and kept repeating it, frightened her even more.

MORE: We’re just 11 years away from a pensions crisis

Even though she knew her tax affairs are up to date, she tried to contact her accountant to check that all was OK, but was unable to get him on the phone.

‘She was in a terrible panic’

The petrified pensioner then turned to Baroness Altmann because she had helped her before.

“She was in a terrible panic when she called me,” Baroness Altmann told Yahoo Finance. “The fact that they knew her address was the most frightening aspect for her.”

She called the crook’s number herself but got no answer. In fact the number has been used to plague a lot of people in recent weeks with many turning to the Whose Number is This website to complain.

HMRC warns people to be aware of the scam. (Getty Images)

HMRC said it was aware of the scam. An HMRC spokesperson said: “We are aware that some customers have received telephone calls claiming to be from HMRC requesting personal information/bank account details in order to demand money for an unpaid tax bill.”

People need to be alert to the calls to avoid being taken in by crooks. HMRC advise that if you cannot verify the identity of the person making the call you should not disclose your personal details.

Anyone who gets a similar call should report it to Action Fraud.