Scam emails from ‘HM Revenue & Customs’

SCAM EmailsWe’ve had numerous clients contact us to ask about recent emails from ‘HMRC’ notifying them they are due a tax refund. Beware: these are not from HM Revenue & Customs and are a scam.

For example here is a recent one a client was sent:

 Dear Customer,

We have detected that you have paid too much in the past, due to an official error. Therefore, HMRC applied ESC B41 to issue a repayment to tax years which are now out of date under the strict statute.

Tax refund : £395,61

Please click here to access the secure web form.

Completed return amounts take 1 to 2 days to appear on your account.

From HMRC

As such we are doing a two part series on how to recognise legitimate communications from HMRC versus phishing/bogus emails and text messages.

In part one we will focus on how to tell if an email is fraudulent.

Firstly, always remember that HMRC will never ask you to provide personal or financial information. Additionally, HMRC emails will never:

  • notify you of a tax rebate
  • offer you a repayment
  • ask you to disclose personal information such as your full address, postcode, Unique Taxpayer Reference or details of your bank account
  • give a non HMRC personal email address to send a response to
  • ask for financial information unless you’ve given us prior consent and you have formally accepted the risks
  • have attachments, unless you have given prior consent and you have formally accepted the risks
  • provide a link to a secure log-in page or a form asking for information – instead we will ask you to log on to your online account to check for information
  • Say urgent action required.

Recognising a Bogus Email

Fraudulent emails may often contain spelling mistakes and poor grammar. Additionally, there are a number of things you can look out for to help you recognise a phishing/bogus email.

Incorrect ‘From’ address

Look out for a sender’s email address that is similar to, but not the same as, HMRC’s email addresses. Fraudsters often have email accounts with HMRC or revenue names in them (such as ‘refunds@hmrc.org.uk’). These email addresses are used to mislead you.

However be aware, fraudsters can falsify (spoof) the ‘from’ address to look like a legitimate HMRC address (for example ‘@hmrc.gov.uk’). If you’re not 100% sure that the message has come from us don’t open it. If you do open the email and you’re in doubt don’t click on any links or downloads.

Bogus websites

Fraudsters often include links to webpages that look like the homepage of the HMRC website. This is to trick you into disclosing personal/confidential information.  Bogus webpages often contain links to banks/building societies, or display fields and boxes requesting your personal information such as passwords, credit card or bank account details.

You should be aware that fraudsters sometimes include genuine links to HMRC web pages in their emails, this is to try and make their emails appear genuine.

Common greeting

Fraudsters often send high volumes of phishing emails in one go so even though they may have your email address, they seldom have your name. Be cautious of emails sent with a generic greeting such as ‘Dear Customer’.

Emails from HMRC will always use the name you’ve provided to us and include information on how to report phishing emails to HMRC.

Attachments

Be cautious of attachments as these could contain viruses designed to steal your personal information.

More Information

If you have received a phishing/bogus email related to HMRC, or you’re not sure if it’s genuine, you can read about how to report internet scams and phishing to HMRC using this link:

https://www.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails-websites-phishing

 

Source:GOV.UK Daily Digest Bulletin, June 15, 2016

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