It is easy to be mislead by HMRC scams as a client today discovered when he was called by someone claiming to be from HMRC alleging there was a warrant out for his arrest. Having spoken to HMRC as his agent they said that my client would definitely have know if there was an issue and he was being pursued well before a phone call. Unless you know and expect a call, text or email from HMRC treat it with extreme caution. My immediate reaction would be to:
- Phone call – google the phone number, if it is a true HMRC number it will appear in the search in the HMRC website, but scam numbers are well reported and will appear in the search as a scam or possible scam. If you are still unsure say you will ring back on one of the official numbers, the easiest way to find them is by searching for HMRC followed by self assessment, corporation tax, PAYE etc depending on which tax they are supposedly pursuing. Make sure you use the number from the gov.uk HMRC website.
- Text – HMRC never send texts, except for login verification codes for online services, which you would key into their website. Do not click on any links in the text, you can probably see misspelled web addresses
- Emails – a personal friend received an email this morning too, these often claim to be for tax refunds and generally will want you to feed your bank details into a weblink which will then take money from your account. Once again look at the links and if there are mispellings that is an immediate cause for concern.
If you are not expecting to be chased by HMRC for funds or a tax refund check your records and with your accountant.
HMRC have alot of information on their website on reporting and spotting suspicious emails, websites and phishing
If you suspect or have been scammed you can report this to Action Fraud who will be able to give more advice and also your bank if your details have been compromised.
This is only a brief guide and warning regarding possible approaches fraudsters may take with HMRC scams and you should seek professional advice if you are in any doubt whatsoever. If you would like advice in this or other areas feel free to call. Alastair Wood, AW Accounting, Gravesend, Kent – Accountants who “speak your language”