There has been an extraordinary increase in reports concerning HMRC calls. These types of calls are known as a HMRC scam. Have a listen to an actual fraudulent voicemail received by one of our clients…
How do I know if it’s a scam?
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The scam mostly consists of an automated phone call with a prerecorded voice letting you know that you are under investigation from HMRC. The message threatens people of taking serious legal actions against them, even claiming that their house is under surveillance. Much like our example, the target is asked to contact urgently a phone number, otherwise serious legal consequences will occur.
When calling back the phone number given, the person can be particularly threatening. They always follow the same long script regarding the target’s alleged debt. The worried victims are then persuaded into settling the debt immediately by disclosing their bank details.
More recently, this scam has taken a new turn with the increase of fake text messages claiming to be HMRC and offering cash rebates. A link to a dangerous website is often attached to the text. Accessing the website can result in the spread of malware and the leak of the victim’s personal information.
Persistent and ruthless, the scammers appear to be harassing more and more people. Although the messages appears to be sent randomly, vulnerable people such as the elderly are the obvious targets of this scam. HMRC have asked people to warn their elderly relatives about this scam.
How can I spot and protect myself from HMRC scams?
Use HMRC anti-fraud tools. You can consult HMRC official Help page to help you identify and prevent phishing phone calls and emails. If you think that you may be a potential victim of this scam, you can find examples or scamming emails and text messages that you can check against. If you are owed money they will let you know by letter or on their website portalthrough your login.
Learn how to recognise a scam call or text from a genuine contact. Text messages are NEVER used to contact people who are due a tax refund. Automated messages are sometimes used by HMRC about outstanding tax bills, however the Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) will always be mentioned. HMRC will never ask you out personal information out of the blue, such as PIN, password or banking details. Settling of debts can never be processed through such a method.
You can also download a CallBlocker app for Iphone and Android and they will block these calls for you. You can also help others by reporting your experience with these type of phone numbers.
HMRC is actively battling against these threats and urging people to report such incidents. Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com and texts to 60599.
What if I think it’s happened to me?
Have you had a call or email that you suspect to be a scam? If you receive a suspicious message of this kind, never give out your personal details. Tell the caller you will report the incident to the authorities and immediately end the call. It is advised to block the number to prevent further contact.