HMRC has issued a warning to all taxpayers to be extra vigilant and watch out for fake phone calls, texts, emails, and WhatsApp messages from scammers pretending to be the UK tax office. Continue reading as we highlight how to spot a scam and what to do if you encounter one.
What is the most recent scam?
The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group has recently published an article as they have received numerous reports from people receiving telephone calls from scammers posing as HMRC. The calls are often from a mobile number, and when answered, an automated message explains there is a problem with your HMRC account and urges you to press 1 to resolve the issue and speak to HMRC for more information.
If you receive a call like this, please end the call immediately and do not press 1.
If you press 1, the scammer will likely ask you to provide personal information such as bank account details or an upfront payment to resolve the problem with your HMRC account. These scam calls are often routed to a different country; even if you do not provide personal information, you may still receive a large phone bill.
If you’ve been a victim of a scam and suffered financial loss, please report it to Action Fraud online, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre. You can also contact them via telephone by calling 0300 123 2040.
Sadly this is not the only scam doing the rounds
Sadly, fraudsters are constantly changing the scams they use to try and catch people out. We have outlined some of the most common ones below for you to watch out for. Please visit the government’s website for a complete list of examples of HMRC-related phishing emails, suspicious phone calls, and texts.
Suspicious phone calls
The ‘press 1 to speak to HMRC’ call is just one example of the type of call that scammers may use. HMRC is also aware of an automated phone call scam that will tell you HMRC is filing a lawsuit against you and press 1 to speak to a caseworker or resolve the issue by making a payment.
Other phone call scams may offer a tax refund or refer to National Insurance Number fraud. They will ask you to provide your bank account information or debit/credit card information.
Tax refund and rebate emails are common scams used by fraudsters. The scam email may spoof a genuine email address or change the display name to appear genuine. The email will often include a hyperlink to get your rebate or refund. The hyperlink will then redirect you to a phishing website where you will be tricked into providing personal information.
HMRC will never send notifications by email about tax rebates or refunds. Please report these phishing emails to HMRC and delete them immediately. Do not visit the website, click on any links or attachments, and do not disclose any personal or financial information.
WhatsApp or social media messages
HMRC is aware of direct messages sent to people via fake social media accounts and WhatsApp. HMRC will never use WhatsApp or social media to contact customers about a tax refund, and they will never request personal or financial information from you via these accounts. If you receive any communication from someone claiming to be HMRC, please send the details of the message to email@example.com and delete the message.
Do not reply or interact with a text message claiming to be from HMRC trying to get you to click on a hyperlink and enter your personal or financial information. HMRC will never ask for this information when they send a text message. If you receive a text message you believe to be from a scammer, send the phishing text message to 60599 (network charges apply) or email firstname.lastname@example.org then delete the message.
How to report the scams to HMRC
Keep an eye out for future articles containing information about phishing scams
As contractor accountants with over 20 years of experience in the industry, Churchill Knight & Associates Ltd is aware of the various phishing scams fraudsters have used over the years to target taxpayers. We will always report new information about scams on our blog to ensure you are well equipped to spot instances where HMRC correspondence is fake or incorrect to protect yourself against scams.
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