Scams are pretty common these days, whether it’s a suspicious looking e-mail, text or a direct message via social media, if we haven’t received one, we certainly all know someone that has and we are all getting better at spotting them and more importantly, avoiding them. However, there’s a new scam doing the rounds that can potentially catch people unaware, because it stems from a voicemail purporting to be from the UK Government’s HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)!!
The scam involves leaving a voicemail message telling the recipient that HMRC are filing a lawsuit against them for alleged unpaid bills, knowing the scare tactics will take you by surprise, the message then leads into the seemingly familiar HMRC options of “’press 1 to speak to a caseworker and make a payment” – but as you can probably guess by this point – it is most certainly not an HMRC representative at the end of the line.
Caller ID can detail that the call is being received from 0300 numbers, which are official HMRC numbers, but these have been cloned for the purpose of these scam calls.
The callers, who are targeting both mobile and landline numbers, suggest that the recipient owes money to HMRC (they have been reported to be intimidating and aggressive) and will often threaten arrest, a spokesman for HMRC team has said.
The nature of the scam is so convincing that finance expert Martin Lewis – founder of Moneysavingexpert.com – and Kay Burley from SKY News have used their TV forums to speak out, warning the public to be vigilant.
So how can you try and keep yourself safe from these fraudsters? Follow these helpful tips from HMRC…
- Genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.
- Do not give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren’t expecting.
- Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to firstname.lastname@example.org and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use their online fraud reporting tool.
- HMRC will never ask for payment in the form of a voucher, such as Amazon, Google Play or iTunes.
- If you are uncertain of the caller hang up and call HMRC directly to check – you can confirm our call centre numbers on GOV.uk if you are unsure.
- For tax credits, we do not include your details in any voicemail messages.
Anyone in doubt about a call they receive can call HMRC back from a different phone and if using a landline always listen for a dial tone before making a call.
Should you be unfortunate enough to receive one of these calls you can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 1232040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk.
If you receive a call reported to be from HMRC but are unsure you are getting the correct information from them, do not be embarrassed to terminate the call and ask your accountant to call them back on your behalf, we deal with them on a daily basis and can verify that you are or are not being approached for legitimate reasons – Stay Safe!