You may think it’s your lucky day if you receive an email, text or phone call telling you that you’re due a tax rebate, or in contrast, your heart may sink if you receive a phone call saying you have outstanding taxes to pay. Either way, this is not always what it seems – a growing number of fraudsters are now targeting victims with some form of tax scam.
This currently seems particularly prevalent in the East Lancashire area, so to make sure you don’t fall for one of the many scams out there, we’re taking you through the most common.
Fraudsters can call up unsuspecting victims, telling them that they are due a tax rebate after being in the wrong tax code for several years.
The person on the other end of the line might ask for your bank or card details in order that you pay an administration fee in advance of receiving the rebate. Without realising the scam, the victim gives out their card details and makes the payment.
A more recent variation on the scam sees fraudsters proclaim that the victims owe tax to HMRC and need to pay this with immediate effect or be subject to prosecution.
One of our clients recently informed us that they themselves had received one of these scam phone calls, in which the person claiming to be from HMRC sounded professional, convincing and as though he was in a position of authority. It was only when our client demanded further information from the caller (such as a VAT registration number, VAT quarter end and previous VAT payment dates), that it became clear that the call was a scam.
If you receive a phone call such as this, alarm bells should ring. HMRC would never phone you for issues such as this, they would always write.
We have seen many fraudulent emails purporting to be HMRC, telling you that you need to click a link and enter bank account details to receive your refund.
By clicking on the link, you’ll often go to a page that looks like a genuine HMRC page. This is a copycat website. The page will then ask you to input your personal information such as your debit or credit card details.
The email can also include attachments which could contain malware designed to steal personal or financial information. You should check any email that claims to be from HMRC for spelling and grammatical mistakes, and generic greetings like ‘Dear Customer’.
HMRC’s own website clearly states that:
HMRC will never send notifications of a tax rebate/refund by email, or ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email.
Generally, HMRC would only send you emails regarding support, or deadline reminders and alerts.
Be cautious if the email insists on immediate and urgent action, or says you only have a few days to do something – this is a tell-tale sign of a scam email.
Be wary of texts claiming to be from HMRC that say you’re due a tax rebate. The text will claim you just need to click the link provided to receive it. The link takes you to a fake website that looks like an HMRC page.
It will usually say that you have a deadline to claim your tax rebate and use urgent language to try to get you to click the link.
What HMRC say
HMRC say they will never use texts or emails to:
- tell you about a tax rebate or penalty;
- ask you about specific facts about your tax return and financial status; or
- ask for personal or payment information.
If you think that you have been the victim of such scams and require further advice, please contact the PM+M team on 01254 679131.