HMRC Phishing And Scams

Recently there has been a huge increase in Phishing and Scams  with criminals pretending to be HMRC. Some are easy to spot but some are very sophisticated, targeting businesses as well as individuals.

HMRC has issued some guidance on what to look for and what to do if you think you are being targeted or have been scammed.

Some of the most successful frauds are websites that look like they are an official government site – but they are not.  Very often they charge you for services that are free if you use the real site – renewing your passport is a favourite one.  Adverts often ask you for an email or call for further advice. The best way to avoid these is to search on which is the official government website.

A very popular phone scam at the moment is a recorded message informing you that you are about to be prosecuted for tax fraud unless you act immediately.  HMRC will NEVER inform you of an impending prosecution in this way. There would have been considerable correspondence and contact with HMRC before it reached this stage.  If you receive one of these calls just hang up immediately.

Emails are another popular method, they look very official and convincing but there are things you can spot.  First of all check the address the email has come from. It may look very official but you can easily spot something odd.  Also check the email itself very carefully. Is the grammar correct? Is everything spelt correctly? Is your name right? Is all the information accurate.  At first glance these emails can appear quite frightening but when you examine things closely, you will see all sorts of inconis#istencies in them. Also check where any links take you before  you click on them. HMRC provide a selection of sample bogus emails you can check out if you are unsure –

HMRC also provide a very helpful list of genuine contact emails and SMS messages which you can check – Genuine HMRC contact and recognising phishing emails

HMRC have stressed that will never ask you for personal or payment information via text or email, neither will then inform you of a tax rebate or penalty in this way.

Genuine emails will

  • Use the name you’ve provided to HMRC 
  • Include information on how to reporting phishing and scams
  • Never give a non-HMRC personal email address to reply to.
  • Never ask for specific figures or calculations
  • Never have attachments, unless you have previously given consent and accepted the risks.
  • Never provide a link to a log-in page or a form asking for information

What You Should Do If You Suspect Phishing And Scams

If you suspect fraud you should always report it as this helps identify and catch the criminals involved.

 If reporting a suspected phone scam you should include

  • your phone number
  • the caller’s phone number
  • the time and date of the call
  • a brief description of the call

If you think you may have given away any personal details then you should contact HMRC’s Security team as quickly as possible – You should include details of what  you may have revealed such as your full name, User ID or password.  Tell them what – not your personal details.

Above all you should be vigilant and just take a moment or two to check things out if you are at all suspicious of phishing and scams.  Often simply searching Google will be enough to alert you and save you becoming a victim. If you need further advice on how to spot fraudulent contacts visit HMRC website or Contact us for further help

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