24 May 2018
Would you be able to tell the difference between the taxman and a criminal?
You’d think so. But criminals are becoming so much more sophisticated it’s becoming harder for us to detect a genuine or fake email or text message from HMRC.
In March alone, HMRC received 84,549 phishing reports meaning more and more people are falling victim to HMRC-based scams.
Here’s a quick guide on how to spot genuine and genuinely fake emails and messages. It might just ensure that you don’t fall victim to a HMRC scam in future!
Let’s talk phishing
Probably the most common method of scamming there is. There are several types of phishing emails that may look like they are from HMRC including ones asking you to confirm your bank details, personal details or emails containing attachments. Avoid opening any attachments as you may be susceptible to a computer virus.
Fraudsters typically use email addresses associated with HMRC which can appear convincing, for example firstname.lastname@example.org. Seems believable, right? This is because fraudsters are also capable of spoofing the ‘’from’’ address, appearing more legitimate but if you hover over the link you’ll be able to see that the link will actually lead you elsewhere.
Phishing emails may also start with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, ‘Dear Customer’ or even ‘Dear *email address*, if an email doesn’t use your name, it’s most likely to be a scam.
If you are worried that you do owe money or are due a refund, get in touch with HMRC directly yourself. HMRC will never alert you via email with these kinds of issues. We recommend:
Another common method of scamming is through text messages. Scary, isn’t it? And so personal when it’s our mobile phone!
While HMRC do occasionally send out messages, they will never ask for any personal details, alert you that you owe money or are due a refund.
Fraudsters have also mastered how to make a text message appear more convincing by replacing the phone number with the sender title as ‘HMRC’. Yes, this may appear more genuine but if the message includes any links, again, disregard the message and report it to HMRC.
While fraudsters tend to use phishing emails and text messages more commonly, there are other ways that these fraudsters can scam you. For example, there are many instances of phone calls and door-to-door visits claiming to be HMRC, asking individuals to provide bank details and personal information. So, again we advise you to never give out any personal information unless you have confirmed the identity of the caller. If you are ever given a number to call to verify that you are speaking to HMRC, do not use it. Go to the HMRC website and take the phone number from the site itself.
You can make HMRC aware of any fraudulent emails, text messages, phone calls or any other scams by clicking on this link.
If you are concerned that you’ve been the victim of a HMRC scam or would like to discuss this matter in more depth, please get in touch with N S Accounts & Technology today. As accountants, we will deal with all communications from HMRC to ensure you are protected from fraudsters. We’re always happy to help.
For more information or if you have any queries please contact us on 02920 647787 or email us at email@example.com.