A number of clients have contacted us over the last few days to report they have received automated voicemail messages purporting to be from HMRC. In one instance the message said the recipient had committed tax evasion. Fortunately they put the phone down and contacted us. One of our tax team advised them to ignore any future calls as it was most probably a scam and that if HMRC wanted to contact them they would write. The automated calls received by our clients seem like the latest HMRC scam.
Typically, these callers leave voicemail messages to encourage victims to give up bank account information or trick them into paying these phoney taxes. Ignore any instructions to press a number on your keypad or dial a number as you are likely to be put through to a bogus call centre where people can be duped out of hundreds and thousands of pounds. The scammers seem to particularly pray on the elderly and the vulnerable. However they are not the only likely victims.
Other Types of Scams
The voicemail scam isn’t the only one currently in use by fraudsters. A variety of methods are being utilised in an attempt to convince victims that they owe HMRC money, or will be subject to an HMRC lawsuit if they don’t settle their non-existent debt. Do not open attachments or click any links in an email or text message as they may contain malicious software. Fraudsters may spoof a genuine email address or change the ‘display name’ to make it appear genuine. If you are unsure, forward it to: firstname.lastname@example.org and then delete it.
Other scams that you need to be aware of include:
- Tax rebate emails
- Phone calls
- WhatsApp messages
- Social media messages
- Refund companies
- Export clearance process (delivery stop order) emails
- Emails asking for personal and financial information or upfront payments in exchange for fictitious items.
- Phishing emails – Here are a few examples to look out for: HMRC Phishing Email Examples
Visit the HMRC guidance page for details of these scams and what you should do if you receive any of them.
How to Protect Yourself
As a government organisation, HMRC is very particular about the ways in which they contact you. They will never, ever use text messages, emails, or social media platforms to request information or inform you of rebates or penalties.
Where it gets a little trickier is when you receive phone calls or voicemails. In such instances, you need to be vigilant, and to educate yourself on the clear signs of fraud.
It’s therefore a good idea to familiarise yourself and your staff with the excellent resource, Take Five to Stop Fraud.
You Can Never Be Too Careful
If you’re ever contacted by HMRC, and you feel uneasy about the correspondence or questions you’re being asked, hang up the phone or do not respond to emails, texts, messages etc. Contact HMRC or us or Action Fraud.