Tax Scams – How To Identify & Report Them

Fraudulent behaviour has, and will always, be prevalent in all industries especially when it comes to tax. During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been an increased number of cases of tax evasion or businesses claiming more government grant money than they should be. A reported over 3000 employees have alerted HMRC to furlough payments not being paid to staff whilst also being made to work despite being on furlough.

Due to the pandemic, and the subsequent mammoth financial borrowing from the government, HMRC will be undertaking more investigations into businesses in order to claw back some of the money lost during lockdown. At Nordens, we always recommend our clients taking out tax insurance. Business protection is often one of the most overlooked and costly mistakes a business can make. For more information or any questions relating to tax insurance, please do not hesitate getting into contact with Marissa Jerrard on 020 8530 0720 or email marissa@nordens.co.uk

With this in mind, and the increased contact from HMRC to small businesses and sole traders, many scammers are capitalising on this. There have been countless reports of scammers falsely impersonating HMRC, through phone calls, text messages and emails, in order to force people to pay ‘penalties’ through a misleading website or bank account.

We look at what you can do to protect yourself and others to falling claim to these illegitimate scams.

How To Identify A Scam

The most recent scam which has been in major circulation is fraudsters contacting businesses and individuals claiming they are going to be arrested for tax evasion.

One of the fundamental things to remember is that HMRC:

  • Will never send any notifications regarding tax rebates or refunds by email
  • Will only ever call you asking about a claim or payment on a debt that you already know about.
  • Never leave a voicemail threatening legal action
  • Never give the reason for a call on a voice message
  • Never contact you through messaging services, such as WhatsApp.
  • Never use social media to offer a tax rebate or request any personal or financial information.

When it comes to emails, if you ever receive anything deemed to be from HMRC then check the email address it comes from. This is a good, solid indicator whether it’s a scam or not. See below an example of a bogus email supplied by HMRC:

As you can see, the blue highlighted address at the top of the email is in no way connected to HMRC. For a full and genuine list of HMRC email address to cross check, please click here.

How To Report A Scam

If you believe you’ve been subject to a scam and have suffered financial loss, HMRC request you contact Action Fraud. Alternatively, forward details of suspicious emails or social media activity to HMRC’s phishing team phishing@hmrc.gov.uk, whilst if you’ve already shared personal information you can report the disclosure to HMRC’s security team.

One of the more detailed ways a scammer can try to retrieve your information or finances is hyperlinking you to a website posing as a HMRC government portal. These can look incredibly similar to legitimate HMRC website portals and are designed to persuade you to input personal information which will most probably used for identity fraud or embezzlement. These again should be reported immediately to HMRC’s phishing team at phishing@hmrc.gov.uk.

 

We hope this has helped you differentiate between a legitimate HMRC contact and a scam. If you require any more information on any tax scams, tax insurance or anything accounting related for that matter, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at Nordens where one of our trusted advisors would be happy talking you through your query.

 
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