On a regular basis, the team at Alexander Myerson are regularly informed of HMRC scams where clients have been contacted in a variety of ways from a source claiming to be employed by HRMC. The rise in the number of these fraudulent attempts has been increasing over the years and scammers are finding new ways of stealing money from unsuspecting clients.
New HMRC scams
Only a few days ago, we were informed of new HMRC scams targeting tax payers which appeared to be aimed at the elderly in particular. This time, the chosen method by the scammers was a recorded telephone message. This informed the unsuspecting victim that they were bringing a law suit against the individual and that they were going to sue them. The recipient was then asked to phone a telephone number to speak to the HMRC officer who was dealing with the case. We regularly inform all of our clients not to engage in particular correspondence that might seem to be sent from HMRC and indeed, one of the ways HMRC can contact you is by telephone. However, we regularly inform our clients that if you cannot verify the identity of the person making the call, you should not disclose any personal details.
One of the most common forms of fraudulent activity is by email. There are indeed genuine emails that can be sent out by HMRC, for example, to employers who have registered to receive them. HMRC can also send emails in respect of VAT Returns, such as a reminder that their VAT Return is due. HMRC can also send education emails. The main thing that all of these have in common is that HMRC will only send these emails to people who have registered to receive them. A key point to remember in any emails that you do receive from HMRC is that a genuine HMRC email will NEVER ask you to provide personal or financial information.
So, how can you spot a fraudulent email? Well, besides the giveaway signs such as spelling mistakes and poor grammar, fraudsters will use an email address that is similar to, but not the same as, HMRC’s email addresses. If you receive such an email then it is worthwhile checking it out on HMRC’s website.
Another way that HMRC can correspond with you is by SMS text messages. A two step verification adds an additional layer of security to this method and this can be used to prevent someone else from accessing your digital account, even if they have your user ID and password.
Again, the main thing to remember in all of these methods is that whether by email, telephone, SMS text message, a genuine form of contact from HMRC will NEVER ask the client to provide personal or financial information.
Common HMRC scams
As highlighted at the beginning of this blog, fraudsters are looking into different ways that they can tap into their unsuspecting victims to access their hard earned money. One of the most common scams we have seen over the years is clients informing us that they have received an email or text message regarding a tax refund. These indicate to the client that HMRC has an amount of money that they wish to refund to the victim. Once again, please remember that HMRC will NEVER send you an email or text message regarding a tax refund and in all instances, they will NEVER request personal details from you.
So, as technology advances, we would urge you to all remain vigilant of these HMRC scams and to follow our simple steps to ensure that you are not the latest pay day for these scammers.
If you are ever in doubt, then contact one of the team at Alexander Myerson who can provide assistance in this matter. Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry!