Beware of HMRC scams!

During lockdown, fraudsters have been actively using the name of HMRC to carry out frauds and identity theft.

There are three main methods – the fraudster will contact targets by phone, text or email presenting themselves as representatives of HMRC.

Phone

This is often an aggressive approach suggesting that HMRC have left several messages to an individual regarding taxes due to which no response has been received. They say HMRC are now arranging the issue of an arrest warrant or proceeding to sue the individual for £x amount which would be a final opportunity to settle. The method is to put the individual under pressure due to the urgency of the situation. A twist to this is when a person has paid and been advised the payment hasn’t gone through and paid again!

They also contact to suggest an individual is due a tax refund in a bid to obtain financial and/or personal information.

Email/Text

These are usually informing the individual that a refund will be due and they are requesting bank details. Of course if someone provides the information it can give the fraudster access to their bank. In addition, links can be included which if opened could be malware resulting in giving access to personal and financial information to the fraudsters.

The amounts referred to both for tax due or a refund are credible amounts. That is to say not ridiculously high or ridiculously low as to not really interest the intended victim. Something in the region of £200 – £500 is typical.

Steps to prevent scams

Consider taking some basic steps to help prevent these scams affecting you:

  • HMRC will not contact taxpayers by any of these methods to advise of tax refunds/liabilities it will always be by post.
  • HMRC will not ask for personal information from taxpayers; they would already have the information.
  • If you have a professional adviser then refer the communication to them.
  • Use the HMRC alert line to verify any such communications – 0300 123 2040
  • Set up a Personal Tax Account with HMRC. It is easy to do and takes 15/30 minutes. With this you can quickly verify your tax status independently.

Contact the tax team at MHA Carpenter Box for more information.

A version of this blog originally appeared on the website of one of our MHA association member firms, MHA Moore and Smalley.