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HMRC phone, text and email scams – spot them and report them!

Fraudsters will use a wide variety of approaches to get their hands on your money or gain access to your bank account or personal details. There are a worryingly high number of persisting scams where these fraudsters are posing as HMRC and in response, HMRC has provided some useful information to help us identify and report these scammers.

Here are just some examples of the scams fraudsters are using:

  • A very popular approaches is to entice you with a tax rebate which asks you to provide bank account details so that HMRC can process your tax repayment.
  • HMRC is aware of a current scam which tells customers they can claim a tax refund to help protect themselves from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
  • The fraudsters often use scare tactics, claiming that you are in tax arrears and must settle quickly to avoid court action.
  • Some even say there is a warrant out for your arrest because you owe HMRC money.

How can I tell if the telephone call, email or text is a fake?

HMRC has provided a useful checklist to help you decide if the contact you’ve received is a scam. You can use it for phone calls, emails and text messages.

HMRC says that it could be a scam if it:

  • is unexpected
  • offers a refund, tax rebate or grant
  • asks for personal information like bank details
  • is threatening
  • tells you to transfer money

Are there any other things to look out for?

Suspicious phone calls

You can be sure that HMRC will:

  • only ever call you asking about a claim or payment on a debt that you already know about
  • never leave a voicemail threatening legal action
  • never give the reason for a call on a voice message

WhatsApp messages

If you receive any communication through WhatsApp claiming to be from HMRC it’s a scam. Take a screenshot and forward it as an email. (See below for how to report this.)

Gift or payment vouchers

HMRC will never ask you to pay with gift or payment vouchers.

What if you think you have already shared personal details with scammers?

If you’re worried you’ve given your payment details or money to a scammer, contact your bank or payment provider as soon as possible and explain what’s happened.

You should be given advice on protecting your account and help with recovering any money you have lost.

In short, if you get a text message or email claiming to be from HMRC demanding payment or offering a ‘tax refund’ in exchange for personal or financial details, do not reply and never open any links in the message.

Scam emails of this sort look official, and often look like they’ve been sent from official government email addresses, making them harder to spot.

Report suspicious HMRC emails, text messages and phone calls

HMRC is encouraging potential victims to report all HMRC related phishing emails, suspicious phone calls and text messages to help with their investigations. Details of how to do this can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/reporting-fraudulent-emails

Tax phishing emails purporting to be from HMRC can happen at any time but are most common around key online and paper tax deadlines so with 31 January fast approaching it’s especially important to be on your guard.

Report misleading websites, emails, phone numbers, phone calls or text messages you think may be suspicious to HMRC and never pay any amounts over to HMRC where details have not been provided by your advisors.

Contact us if you need our advice.

Disclaimer

The information was correct at time of publishing but may now be out of date.

Tax
Posted by Lisa Wilson
14th January, 2021
Get in touch with Lisa Wilson