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With the Self Assessment Tax Return deadline looming, many businesses and freelancers will be in contact with HMRC. Unfortunately, one of the issues arising from tax deadlines is scammers taking advantage of taxpayers.

Looking out for HMRC phishing attacks and scams

Scammers use this busy time as an opportunity to mimic HMRC’s emails and begin ‘phishing’. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails imitating someone else.

As well as emails, you might also receive texts, WhatsApp messages, or phone calls, from people claiming to be from HMRC.

Their goal is to persuade us to reveal personal information they can use, or even to make a payment directly to them.

We received this email which claims to be from HMRC. There are a few things wrong with it!

HMRC Scam Email Example

What HMRC will really say (and what they won’t)

People usually fall for scams when they’re not sure what the normal process is. Sadly, some of these attacks look and sound very convincing – even to an accountant.

HMRC may contact you for a variety of reasons, including by phone. They will never contact you to ask for payment details, bank information, or passwords.

Make sure you don’t click on any links in emails or messages, or download any attachments. If you answer a call to someone claiming to act on behalf of HMRC and they ask for personal information, bank details or payment – hang up.

If there are genuine issues which need your attention, such as underpaid tax, you’ll be notified by letter. Make sure that you only use contact information from the HMRC website, or speak to your accountant!

Should I report scams to HMRC?

If you receive any emails, phone calls or texts that you think might be a HMRC scam, report them immediately. It can help protect others who might be vulnerable to such attacks.

You can also report other phishing attacks and scams online.

What to do if you’re the victim of an HMRC phishing scam

If you have lost money as a result of a scam

You can report the incident online using the Action Fraud website. This is a branch of the Police which deals with reports of fraud and cybercrime.

If you have given out bank details and money has not yet been taken from your account

Contact your bank as soon as possible. They will be able to block your account, or set up additional security measures to stop transactions without your authority.

Learn more about the digital accountancy services we provide to small businesses and sole traders. Chat to one of the team on 020 3355 4047, or request a call back.

About The Author

Dean Salmon

I'm an AAT and ACA qualified Chartered Accountant with over 13 years experience working with businesses, contractors and sole traders. I also love watching live music, and quizzes!

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