How to spot HMRC scams
15th April 2019
Rarely a week goes by at Stone & Co without one of our clients getting in touch with us to express concern over fraudulent HMRC scams.
Con artists are increasingly evolving their attempts to trick you into parting with some or all of your hard-earned savings.
For that reason, we feel the need to increase awareness among our clients and advise on things to keep an eye out for.
If someone calls you out the blue claiming to be a tax official, try to verify their identity and do not speak to them if they cannot prove who they are.
The scammer’s goal is always the same: to get you to disclose your bank details, by hook or by crook. Do not give them out under any circumstances.
Bogus phone scams
Fraudsters are increasingly turning to phone scams where they impersonate tax inspectors from the Revenue.
These scams can involve con artists appearing to call you from HMRC’s phone number, and threatening you with arrest if you don’t pay them thousands of pounds instantly.
The Revenue received more than 60,000 reports of scam calls between July 2018 and January 2019 – up 360% on the previous six months.
HMRC has repeatedly made clear that it would never call you or any other taxpayer unannounced, and urges you to hang up immediately – even if the caller threatens you with legal action or offers you a tax refund.
Spotting fake emails
Receiving bogus emails occurs to most of us virtually every day. Most of them are very easy to spot as they are littered with errors.
Much like the Revenue would never instigate contact over the phone, it would never send you notifications about tax rebates over email.
If one lands in your inbox, be aware that fraudsters may spoof a genuine HMRC email address or alter the display name to make it appear authentic.
Do not click on any links to redirect you to a website and avoid opening any attachments contained in the email under any circumstances.
HMRC and text messages
While the Revenue does send out text messages to communicate with taxpayers, it will never ask for personal or financial information.
Abide by the same golden rules as mentioned previously: do not open any links contained in the text message, and do not respond to the text message.
How to report scams
If a scammer has attempted to dupe you in one of the aforementioned ways, you should report it to HMRC.
Make sure you write down the date of contact, the method of contact, the content from the contact, and the email address or phone number used.