Fraudsters have for many years used multiple methods to try and steal personal details, and ultimately defraud individuals from their hard earned money. A very common method amongst fraudsters is to impersonate HMRC.
Typically, the fraudsters will contact individuals by email, phone calls and text messages. The communication will be to inform the individual that they are due a tax refund, and need to click a link to submit their personal details. This is known as a Phishing or Bogus email scam. To avoid individuals being targeted HMRC provide guidance and support to help identify if an email is genuine or not.
Firstly, it is important to know HMRC will very rarely contact tax payers by email or text message, the majority of communication from them is by letter. Furthermore, HMRC would not call individuals and ask for confirmation of bank details over the phone, this is not how genuine HMRC enquiries are conducted. Any call purporting to be from HMRC and asking for bank details will be false.
Common examples of Phishing Emails can be accessed via HMRC’s website, if you have received an email or communication which you are unsure of you can forward it to HMRC. Their advice is always to not click any links or provide any details and to delete the communication.
It is important to be aware and vigilant of the common contact methods used by the fraudsters so you can avoid being a victim.
For those individuals who have an accountant or tax advisor already, ask them to confirm if the communication is genuine before responding or providing details. Remember, email and text message scams are designed to infect your devices so don’t click the links or forward the communication to anyone else, as you may just be helping the fraudsters spread the virus.
For clients who do not have an accountant before responding, it would be better to call HMRC on a number published via their website to verify if they have been trying to contact you.
Finally, if you or anyone you know has been a victim it is important to report this to the authorities to assist them to try and take action against the fraudsters.