Due to the huge rise in the number and variety of email, text and phone scams claiming to be from HMRC and targeting consumers and businesses, the UK Government have published a list of their current messages so that you can recognise genuine contact. The website also includes advice on recognising fraudulent emails and examples of the most common phishing messages which claim to be from HMRC.
HMRC have stated that they will never text, email or phone to ask for bank details, PIN or passwords.
Some of the most commonly reported HMRC scams are:
- An automated message saying that HMRC are filing a lawsuit against you. You are asked to press 1 to be connected to a caseworker
- A cold caller telling you that you are being charged with tax fraud. In order to avoid court action you are asked to send a copy of your passport and to pay over £1,000
- An automated message saying that your National Insurance number has been compromised or is invalid. You are asked to press 1 to speak to an ‘advisor’ who may ask for your personal details in order to apply for a new NI number.
- An automated message purportedly from a criminal agency, saying that your National Insurance number is going to be suspended and your assets seized. The message asks you to press 1 to stop your assets being seized.
- A cold caller saying that you owe up to £500 in unpaid tax and will be arrested in a couple of hours if you don’t pay immediately. You may be asked to make the payment in vouchers or prepaid cards for Amazon or Google Play
- A message via social media from someone saying that they can help you claim a tax rebate. You’re asked to provide £500 in Amazon vouchers
- Find further examples of HMRC scams on their website.
A consumer was called by someone posing as HMRC staff, saying that he owed them money in unpaid tax and that a warrant would be issued for his arrest if he didn’t pay. He agreed to make three payments, each between £200 and £400. When he couldn’t transfer any more money, the caller asked for subsequent payments to be paid in Amazon vouchers. At this point, the man realised that the call was not genuine and contacted Advice Direct Scotland for help.
What to do:
- Do not press 1 or follow any other instructions given in an automated message
- If you are speaking to a person, don’t give them any personal information or bank details, even if they seem to know some of your details already
- Don’t click on any buttons or links in unsolicited emails, even if they look official
- Contact your bank immediately if you think you may have made a payment to a scammer or if you are worried that a fraudulent transaction has been made from your account. Use the phone number on your bank statement or a publicly listed number (don’t use a number given to you by a cold caller). To ensure that you are disconnected from the cold caller, phone another number such as 123 before phoning your bank or call them from another phone
- Report any similar phishing scams to HMRC through their website