HELLO, THIS IS HMRC CALLING… BUT IS IT REALLY THEM? BEWARE OF SCAM PHONE CALLS

BLOG14th Sep 2020

Scam HMRC

An increasing number of scam phone calls are being made, where the caller pretends to be from HMRC in order to try and obtain bank details from their victim. These callers can be extremely convincing, even sometimes coming from a ‘cloned’ HMRC telephone number and more and more people are being caught out by them.

While these calls may sound convincing, many are elaborate scams aiming to deceive unsuspecting taxpayers. In this article, we delve into the world of HMRC scam calls, offering insights to help you differentiate between genuine HMRC communications and fraudulent attempts. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and safeguard yourself against the rising tide of phone scams.

The scammer will ask their victim to confirm their personal details such as their name, address and National Insurance number. They may then advise the victim that they owe HMRC a sum of money and ask them to make payment now, pushing them to hand over their bank details and thus enabling the scammer to take money from their account. 73% of UK adults have been targeted by HMRC scams, with almost 50% of these on average losing £1730 per offence.  

Features of a HMRC scam call

Scare tactics are often used, threatening that if the individual doesn’t stay on the call the debt collectors or the police will be sent to their door and that if they don’t make payment now they will be arrested for tax fraud. HMRC will not telephone out of the blue requesting personal details or threaten individuals with law suits or warrants for their arrest. HMRC may call individuals, however it would only be relating to matters which the individual should already be aware of, either via a letter already sent from HMRC, or in relation to a Self Assessment tax return submitted. As well as calls, fraudulent emails and text messages are also used by scammers, sometimes advising you that you are due a tax refund with a link to click on to claim it. Attachments or links should not be opened as they may contain malicious software or direct you to a fake website. HMRC will never send notification of a tax refund by email or text and they will never ask for bank account details or personal information by email or text.

How to stay safe

There are several methods to avoid becoming a victim of these scams:

  1. Never give out your personal details on a call you weren’t expecting,
  2. Do not respond to an email or text message supposedly from HMRC or click on any links or attachments.
  3. Look out for signs that it might not be genuine, including threatening language, pressure to act quickly and being contacted out of the blue.
  4. If the identity of the caller cannot be verified, end the call and phone HMRC on a recommended contact number shown on their website.

HMRC Dispute Resolution

If you find yourself in a dispute with HMRC or suspect that you have been targeted by a scam call, it’s crucial to take action promptly. HMRC offers dispute resolution services to help individuals and businesses resolve issues efficiently and fairly. If you believe you have received a fraudulent call or communication from someone claiming to be from HMRC, it’s essential to report it to HMRC immediately. By contacting HMRC’s dedicated email address for phishing incidents at phishing@hmrc.gov.uk, you can help prevent others from falling victim to similar scams. Furthermore, should you encounter any challenges with HMRC regarding tax matters, such as disputes over tax assessments or queries about your tax obligations, AAB, licensed tax advisors, can offer guidance to address your concerns and ensure compliance with tax regulations. Remember, staying informed and vigilant is key to protecting yourself against fraudulent activities and resolving any disputes with HMRC effectively.

Should you do receive any suspicious calls or emails from HMRC, please immediately contact your usual advisor at AAB. Alternatively, please get in touch with Lynn Gracie or Natalie Butler for further advice.

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