Scam texts, emails and phone calls claiming to be from HMRC are on the rise. Here’s how to spot a scam and prevent the fraudsters stealing from you.
Scammers are canny with the timing of their fake HMRC communications: they know when tax will be on people’s minds. Self Assessment tax return season is always a time to be on your guard but the pandemic has given scammers a field day.
Among the most common scams this year are emails pertaining to be from HMRC inviting applications for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant. Texts offering tax refunds or Coronavirus support funding are also doing the rounds. Scams relating to SEISS have been particularly confusing because HMRC has been contacting some claimants to carry out pre-verification checks. If this affects you, HMRC should notify you by letter in advance.
Spotting the fakes
Often, there are some basic clues that shout out ‘scam’ or at least give you cause to investigate further. Look out for:
- Poor grammar
- Spelling errors
- Chatty greetings such as ‘Hello’ and closing sentences like ‘Thank you for your cooperation’
- Messages arriving via WhatsApp. HMRC would never communicate using this messaging service.
Don’t click the links
If a suspicious email or text invites you to click a link or open an attachment, don’t. Links in scam messages will most likely take you to a misleading ‘phishing’ website to enter personal details. If you do, your personal information can then be exploited or used to expose you to malicious software.
If you are in any doubt about an email, text message or call that appears to be from HMRC, please do talk to us. We will be able to verify any genuine communications. You can report scam emails, calls and messages here.