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!
The sender’s email address isn’t an HMRC or GOV address.
HMRC do not send emails regarding tax refunds.
The website link does not exist as a page on the HMRC or GOV.UK site (you can hover over a link to check this).
Plus, the general spelling, grammar and tone.
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.