For a number of years, the amount of emails, texts and call scams circulating has become alarmingly increasing. With advances in technology and the ability for scams to look and sound ‘legit’, they pose a greater threat to us all. These scams often claim to be from legitimate organisations and often prompt us to provide personal details such as confidential information or bank details. In today’s world, scams, and those behind them are clever, making it even more difficult to determine whether communication is legitimate. As a result, the risk of falling victim to these scams, especially for those who are less aware of the ‘key’ signs that emails calls and text are fake, is increasing.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped these scams and they are becoming more creative in their attempts to gain personal information. They are using the vulnerability of the current global situation to their advantage and the number of fraudulent calls stating they are calling from Track and Trace or the vaccination program, when they are in fact not, is high.
Specifically, in the business world, AAB staff have seen an increase in the number of scams claiming to be from a legitimate HMRC source. These have specifically increased over the last month given the usual self-assessment tax filing deadline has just passed. At AAB, we act as agents on behalf of our clients and are in regular contact with HMRC. Often technical questions require further investigation and HMRC will have to call our staff back to resolve the query at a later date once they have reviewed.
Recently, we received a call claiming to be from HMRC which was automatically assumed as a regular expected call back. However, the caller requested personal details (by way of national insurance number) which is not something they will ever asked for when dealing with clients’ Corporate Tax matters as an agent. Luckily our experienced staff member, who knew the normal HMRC protocol, was able to realise this was not an official HMRC call back. After hanging up and upon investigation of the number, we were made aware this was a known HMRC scam call.
AAB’s own experience of HMRC scam calls show how easily it could be to fall victim to these fraudulent communications and reveal personal information or personal payment information, especially if you are not familiar with the usual HMRC protocol. With current working environments, this emphasises the need to remain vigilant and cautious with any calls or emails received claiming to be from HMRC or any other organisation.
To highlight, HMRC should never call you direct without any previous communication and request any personal details over the phone. As a caution, only provide any personal information such as national insurance numbers when you have called the number yourself using the official gov.uk contact details.
If in doubt regarding the legitimacy of any communication received from HMRC please contact your usual AAB contact who will be able to assist before any action is taken.