It’s that time of year again. With the self-assessment deadline looming, scammers are poised to take advantage of unwitting taxpayers by impersonating HMRC using a variety of methods.
Scams tend to take one of two forms: Messages telling you about a rebate or warning that you’ve missed an important deadline. The latter are often accompanied by threats of police action.
SW&A have rounded up a selection of common scammer tactics and what you can do to avoid being caught out.
A fake HMRC email may tell you you’re due a tax refund and encourage you to click a link to claim it. HMRC says it will never contact people by email about tax refunds and their emails will tell you to sign into your HMRC online account to read a message. If you receive a suspicious email from HMRC, report it to email@example.com and then delete it.
When you receive a text from a company or organisation, that brand’s name will usually show up on screen. Unfortunately, scammers can abuse this system to make it appear that their texts are from these organisations. HMRC says it will never ask for personal or financial information in text messages and that you should never reply to a message claiming to offer you a refund nor open any links.
Fake phone calls
These usually take the form of automated messages, claiming HMRC is filing a lawsuit against you or that there’s a warrant out for your arrest. If a human being calls you claiming to be from HMRC, don’t give them your details. Hang up immediately and get in touch with HMRC yourself if you think it might need to contact you.
Social media and WhatsApp messages
HMRC never uses these platforms to contact people about tax refunds or ask for personal or financial information. To misquote Snoop Dogg, just (del)ete.
For more information on these scams and examples of what they might look like, visit HMRC’s phishing examples page at www.gov.uk/government/publications/phishing-and-bogus-emails-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples