HMRC scams are on the rise

It is that time of the year when many will be making self-assessment payments of tax around 31 January.

Unfortunately, this also means it is a time when opportunistic thieves are prevalent; using methods to try and scam individuals, fraudulently extract their funds.

HMRC stats suggest that since the pandemic started, tax-related ‘scams’ have risen considerably, mostly due to people making use of technology and more frequent use of online payment mechanisms. It has led to an increase in ‘Phishing’ attacks most often in the format of text messages, emails and phone calls.

Such attacks encourage the reader to click on a link thinking that they can pay their tax online, only for this link to take you to a fake, fraudulent website.  The resulting website will ask for online payment such as a bank transfer or bank card details, only for the resultant payment to be made to a criminal and not HMRC.

Do not open attachments or click on any links in a suspicious email or text message, as they may contain malicious software or direct you to a fraudulent website.  Simply delete the message.  It would also be recommended to make sure your anti-virus software is up to date, as many of these can intercept the email link before or after you click on it.

HMRC scam text

Deception can be attempted in other ways, some as brazen as automated phone messages stating that there is a warrant out for your arrest and asking for payment over the phone.  HMRC would never issue this kind of warning, so it is best to simply hang up these calls.

HMRC have stated that they would never text, email or phone to ask for bank details, PINs or passwords. Such is the risk, they have a dedicated team working on cyber and phone crimes; you can report anything suspicious to HMRC.

If you ever have any doubt on how much to pay and how, get in touch with your accountant who will be able to confirm the amount and the safe method of payment.  Further information on how to correctly pay HMRC can be found here.

It’s important to note that while this time of year is common for HMRC scams, fraud on UK businesses has continued to rise throughout the pandemic and it is important that businesses understand the risks. For more information on this, you can read our article on how to best protect yourself and your business?

This article was produced by James Elvin, a manager at Price Bailey. To contact James about any of the points raised in this article, please get in touch using the form below.

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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