A couple of very recent messages from clients have highlighted a distressing increase in the amount of scam calls, texts and emails purporting to be from HMRC.
Alarmingly, almost one million UK residents reported fraudulent contact to the Tax Authority in 2019, with spikes just before, and just after the January tax return deadline. The level of sophistication can vary from the downright clumsy to the entirely plausible, with emails featuring personal details, addresses and legitimate looking HMRC branding.
We are exceptionally grateful to the two clients who called for allowing us to use their experiences as examples of this despicable attempt to defraud.
The first received a telephone call of a threatening nature, asserting that arrest was imminent for non-payment of Tax, the second received an official looking emails saying that their application for Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) claim had been rejected.
Thankfully, both clients acted sensibly, ignored the communication and immediately reported the matter, action that we applaud and recommend. Scamming is a criminal offence and it is only through the diligence of intended victims that we will stamp out this blight on our community.
Please note that official email communication from HMRC would be sent from a .gov.uk address
Telephone and text scams are a little more difficult to boil down, but the key note is to remember that before you receive threatening calls from the HMRC you will have received plenty of written communication. Tax Officers do not make random calls, their time is far too important!
Neither does any Tax Officer have the power to interview you over the telephone, so you are entirely within your rights to cut any conversation short if you do not want to have a discussion with HMRC, genuine or not.
Just as every episode of Crimewatch used to end with a comforting ‘please do not have nightmares’ we will end with some very simple advice…
Do not click on any links received in emails or texts that you are not 100% certain are genuine, and if you receive a phone call, tell them you are going to check the details and will call the official HMRC collection line to make payment, and if any doubt, please call us, we are here to help.
Paula Sparrow CTA TEP