How to avoid HMRC tax scams

5 February 2020

If you complete a self-assessment tax return, no doubt you have received lots of communications from HMRC in the run up to last month’s deadline. True communications from HMRC are generally quite helpful – reminding you of your responsibilities and providing you with access to learning materials that will help you manage your tax affairs.

However, there are many scam communications which you need to be aware of. Last year, HMRC had almost 200,000 reports of suspicious phone calls (up from 60,000 the previous year), and then there are the phishing emails and texts too. Even fraudulent letters are still being received.

Regardless of the means of communication, there are generally two types of message: either telling you about a rebate, or warnings that you’ve missed a deadline. Unfortunately, they range from being poorly written and unbelievable, to well-presented and convincing.

So, what do you do if you find yourself in this situation?

  • If you are unsure if the correspondence received is from HMRC, please get in touch with either your normal UHY contact or HMRC directly, using the available contact details
  • If you are contacted by phone, use a different phone to call HMRC back, as the scammer may otherwise remain on the line
  • Forward any suspected scam emails to phishing@gsi.gov.uk
  • Forward suspicious text messages to 60599. Text messages will be charged at your network rate
  • Do not follow any links given in emails
  • Never give your bank details or other sensitive information over the phone, and
  • Consider whether you should make a report to ActionFraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Remember, HMRC do not:

  • Send notifications about tax refunds
  • Ask for personal or financial information by email or text
  • Use automated calls to tell you that you will be arrested, that they are filing a lawsuit against you, or even that you are owed a tax refund
  • Use WhatsApp or social media to contact people about tax refunds, etc.

For more advice on how to protect yourself from scammers, please contact your local UHY adviser.

Alternatively, fill out our contact form here.