Don’t get caught out. Scam emails & texts from ‘HMRC’

Robin Stevenson


I recently received an email seemingly from HMRC, telling me that I am due a tax refund and giving me a link to click on to claim it. And I’ll admit it carries HMRC logo’s, uses HMRC’s green colour scheme and the amount it said I was due wasn’t unreasonable, it wasn’t too high to be obviously wrong, the email looked genuine. But of course, I know my tax position, I know whether I am owed a tax liability or not, so I immediately knew something was wrong.


Closer inspection spotted a spelling mistake, hovering over the link to take me to the refund page showed a different address to HMRC, two different fonts were used, the green colour scheme was slightly too light, and other than the name attached to my email account there wasn’t anything in the email to identify me like I would expect from HMRC. Not that HMRC would have emailed me without my express permission anyway.


But that is the problem, to the untrained eye the email looks authentic, unless you are really up to date with your own taxes, and most people aren’t, then a tax refund is usually something other people receive so when the chance comes along for an unexpected but welcome windfall then it is mighty tempting and difficult to ignore. But of course, the sole purpose of these unsolicited emails is for you to click on the link and enter your bank account details, or to unwittingly download a virus program onto your computer to gather your personal information so it can be used by fraudsters to access your money.


With all scams like this, it’s the fraudsters who will be receiving money, not you! And it will be your money!


Due credit to HMRC, they are trying to prevent such emails and I am sure a lot of HMRC resource is being used to close these emails down, but of course as soon as one is closed down another one is opened up.


Best advice if you receive one of these emails is to delete it. The overall insecurity of the internet and email means that HMRC will not contact you by this method, I mean where did they get your email address from? I doubt you have ever given it to them.


If you are unsure of your tax position and the temptation of that email offering a tax refund is just too much then always, but always, telephone HMRC first. Don’t use the telephone number shown in the email, use the internet to find HMRC’s telephone number (it’s 0300 200 3300) and speak to an HMRC officer. Making that telephone call instead of clicking on the email might very well save you a lot of money.


In other news… we are busy preparing P11d’s for our clients. These are the forms that inform HMRC of any taxable benefits that employees have received in the year over and above their salary. HMRC will use this information to adjust the PAYE code you see on payslips which in turn deducts the appropriate amount of tax taken from your salary. Employers will be aware that these P11d forms need to be filed with HMRC by 6th July.


If you employ people and aren’t sure about the P11d form or have any questions, then do get in touch with Robin Stevenson our Tax Partner


Robin tax partner swindells east sussex accountants and tax advisors


Robin Stevenson - Tax Partner


Tel: 01825 763 366

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