“Hello, this is HMRC calling"... but is it really them? Beware of scam phone calls

14 September 2020

An increasing number of scam phone calls are being made, where the caller pretends to be from HMRC in order to try and obtain bank details from their victim. These callers can be extremely convincing, even sometimes coming from a ‘cloned’ HMRC telephone number and more and more people are being caught out by them.

The scammer will ask their victim to confirm their personal details such as their name, address and National Insurance number. They may then advise the victim that they owe HMRC a sum of money and ask them to make payment now, pushing them to hand over their bank details and thus enabling the scammer to take money from their account.

Scare tactics are often used, threatening that if the individual doesn’t stay on the call the debt collectors or the police will be sent to their door and that if they don’t make payment now they will be arrested for tax fraud.

HMRC will not telephone out of the blue requesting personal details or threaten individuals with law suits or warrants for their arrest.

HMRC may call individuals, however it would only be relating to matters which the individual should already be aware of, either via a letter already sent from HMRC, or in relation to a Self Assessment tax return submitted.

As well as calls, fraudulent emails and text messages are also used by scammers, sometimes advising you that you are due a tax refund with a link to click on to claim it. Attachments or links should not be opened as they may contain malicious software or direct you to a fake website.

HMRC will never send notification of a tax refund by email or text and they will never ask for bank account details or personal information by email or text.

How to stay safe

  • Never give out your personal details on a call you weren’t expecting,
  • Do not respond to an email or text message supposedly from HMRC or click on any links or attachments.
  • Look out for signs that it might not be genuine, including threatening language, pressure to act quickly and being contacted out of the blue.
  • If the identity of the caller cannot be verified, end the call and phone HMRC on a recommended contact number shown on their website.

Details of fraudulent calls, emails and text messages should also be reported to HMRC by emailing phishing@hmrc.gov.uk.

Please always be vigilant when taking calls from unknown numbers, and if you do receive any suspicious calls or emails from HMRC, please immediately contact your usual advisor at AAB. Alternatively, please get in touch with Lynn Gracie or Natalie Butler for further advice.

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