HMRC scam calls, emails and text messages – be aware
HMRC scam calls, HMRC scam emails and HMRC scam text messages appear to be on the increase again, this time in the run up to the 31 January 2023 Self Assessment deadline.
The government organisation regularly issues warnings to be aware of fraudsters, especially at key times in the year, including the above Self Assessment deadline.
last year, it reportedly received nearly 800,000 reports from the public regarding suspicious HMRC contact, including emails, texts and phone calls. Many of these were phone scams and HMRC received circa 360,000 fraudulent tax rebate reports from members of the public.
This year we have been made aware of people receiving letters through the post from HMRC, with a penalty for not submitting VAT returns.
On careful inspection, the VAT number didn’t match with the persons VAT number. Whilst these were genuine letters from HMRC, an additional VAT registration had been set up fraudulently, and HMRC confirmed this is very common now. Individuals should always make sure they are checking all details on official letters, including VAT number and addresses and should pass such correspondence on to their professional advisors for certainty, rather than reply directly themselves.
Some of the most common techniques used by fraudsters include phoning taxpayers and offering a fake tax refund or pretending to be HMRC by texting or emailing a link which will take customers to a fraudulent page, where bank details and money can be stolen. There are also many incidents of fraudsters threatening people with arrest or imprisonment if a bogus tax bill is not paid immediately.
HMRC operates a dedicated customer protection team to identify and close down scams but it is advising customers to understand the signs to help avoid becoming victims. HMRC and banks will never contact customers asking for their bank details, PIN or passwords. You should never give out private information, respond to text messages, download attachments or click on links in such emails or texts.
Do HMRC call you?
With HMRC phone scams on the rise, as well as HMRC phishing scams, it is important to never give any personal information over the phone if you receive a call, even if the person phoning you claims the call to be regarding HMRC fraud reporting or a HMRC fraud call itself. You may receive a HMRC tax fraud phone call, threatening you. It is always best to hang up, avoiding any potential HMRC fraud calls and check on HMRC’s own website on how to contact direct.
HMRC scam communications – what to do
“Clients can contact us if they are uncertain about correspondence or calls”
John McCaffery, tax partner here at Alexander & Co explains “We are often contacted by clients who receive fraudulent communications of this nature. Our advice is to never reply directly. Clients can contact us if they are uncertain about correspondence or calls they have received.
“If anyone else is unsure of any communications they receive, they can forward details of suspicious calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC to email@example.com and texts to 60599. More information on how to avoid and report phishing and scams can be found on the HMRC website here.
“Many people delay completing their Self Assessments, leaving them to the last minute. Whilst this can lead to mistakes and errors in rushing to meet the deadline and avoid fines, it also leaves people more vulnerable to falling victim of a fraud attack. Anyone looking for assistance in completing their Self Assessments or for more general tax advice, should contact our tax department without delay.”
Our expert tax team at Alexander & Co can be contacted on 0161 832 4841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.