Data Privacy Day 2022 | How to keep safe

76% of businesses report falling victim to phishing attacks every year, and 1.5m new phishing sites are created every month with the sole purpose of tricking victims into revealing sensitive information.

Whether a suspicious email arrives into your inbox, or you’re surfing the web, bear in mind the following advice when deciding to engage with unknown people online:

  • Be aware before you share. Every piece of information you provide about yourself makes it simpler for a scammer to charm you, intimidate, or persuade you into an online connection you didn’t initiate.
  • If in doubt, don’t give it out. If it feels like a scam, back yourself and assume that it is.
  • No reply is often a good reply. Never feel obliged to respond out of courtesy. It’s easier to stay out of a scammer’s clutches if you don’t open the door for a reply-to-your-reply.
  • Listen to friends and family. Especially when money is involved – this may include receiving it from newfound “business associates” who have fraudulently pitched you a “job” in their organisation.

With the end of the tax year soon approaching, now is the appropriate time for scammers to send out tax-related scam emails – often mentioning P45, P60 or P11D forms. However, these emails may not explicitly mention transferring money and are often just requesting further information.

Engaging with a scammer in any way at all, even by providing more information, is the first step a scammer wants you to take.

As well as providing more information, scammers may entice you to click on a link that takes you through to a website that replicates your personal tax account. They’ll then capture your username and password when you attempt to log in.

Sometimes, scammers may use high-pressure tactics of sending a text warning you how you could get into trouble if you don’t act right away. On the other end of the scale, they may attempt to delight you by luring you in with a refund. See the example image below.

HMRC will never;

  • Send notifications by email about tax rebates or refunds
  • Ask for personal or financial information when sending text messages
  • Send automated phone calls telling you HMRC is filing a lawsuit against you, and to ‘press 1’ to speak to a caseworker to make a payment.
  • Use WhatsApp to contact customers about a tax refund.

You can report anything suspicious to HMRC.

Hackers and scammers often use poor grammar in their emails and this can be a red flag.

Always bear in mind the simplest advice when deciding whether to engage with people you don’t already know online.

  • Be aware before you share
  • If in doubt, don’t give it out
  • No reply is often a good reply
  • Listen to friends and family

This article was written by Charles Cook, an IT manager at Price Bailey, with reference to Paul Ducklin’s original article regarding tax scam emails in the US. With the pandemic seeing an increase of fraud committed on UK businesses, you can read our article on the best ways to protect yourself and your business here.

We always recommend that you seek advice from a suitably qualified adviser before taking any action. The information in this article only serves as a guide and no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of this material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.


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