There has been a recent spike in HMRC scam calls.
Members of the public have been advised to be aware of a number of HMRC scam calls recently reported to police.
We at K.A.Farr & Co. have received a number of worried calls from business owners who have received these HMRC scam calls or emails. We have investigated the scam and been able to provide the reassurance that our clients needed. It is important that you stay vigilant and look out for the signs of a scam call.
The caller may tell you that you owe a significant amount of money in tax, and you are required to make an immediate payment. They will often use aggressive tactics including threats of passport confiscation or court summons in order to get a payment over the phone.
There is also an automated phone call scam which will tell you HMRC is filing a lawsuit against you, and to press one to speak to a caseworker to make a payment. HMRC have confirmed this is a scam and you should end the call immediately. This scam has been widely reported and often targets elderly and vulnerable people. Other scam calls may offer a tax refund and request that you provide your bank or credit card information.
HMRC do occasionally contact customers to arrange a compliance check interview, or request business records to be sent electronically or by post. You can check if the request is genuine by asking the HMRC staff member to send an email while you are on the call to confirm their identity.
Their email address should have their name and end in @hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.
At K.A.Farr & Co. we are always here to help. If you have received one of these calls or emails, or are worried about any other suspicious correspondence don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.
The scam calls come from a variety of phone numbers.
You can help them to be investigated by reporting them to firstname.lastname@example.org including the:
- Date of the call
- Phone number used
- The content of the call
Tax refund and rebate HMRC scam emails are also a major problem.
Mel Stride MP, the financial secretary to the Treasury, says:
“HMRC only informs you about tax refunds through the post or through your pay via your employer. All emails, text messages, or voicemail messages saying you have a tax refund are a scam.”
In 2017-18, HMRC received 771,227 reports of tax refund and rebate scams. They are a very common ploy, as everyone would love to receive some money back from the taxman.
They can appear to be very convincing, however, there are a few tell-tale signs to look out for:
- The sender’s email address doesn’t tally with the trusted organisation’s website address
- The email does not use your proper name, but uses a non-specific greeting like “Dear Customer”
- A sense of urgency; for example the threat that unless you act immediately you will be fined.
- A request for personal information such as username, password or bank details
Whilst tax refunds do happen, HMRC will never send notifications for tax refunds or rebates which contain or ask for personal or payment information by email. Many scam emails will ask you to download a PDF or click a link to a website asking for your information.
It is important if you receive an email you suspect is a scam that you:
- Don’t visit the website
- Don’t open any attachments
- Don’t disclose any personal or payment information
You can find out how to report HMRC scams via this page. If you’ve been a victim of a scam and suffered a financial loss you can report it to Action Fraud.