Avoiding tax scammers in 2019

Avoiding scams

Avoiding tax scammers in 2019

You might have already been a victim of a cyber criminal’s attempt to swindle you out of your hard-earned cash. At present, HMRC has a huge problem on their hands with fraudsters imitating the organisation online via email and over the phone to steal unsuspecting people’s personal details and money.

Even if you’ve heard the advice before, it’s always worth going over the ways you can avoid being scammed.

Phone calls

HMRC claims in 2018 there were over 100,000 attempts by criminals to make people pay false tax bills over the phone. The tactics used to trick people into sharing their information and giving away their money are sophisticated, allowing them to imitate HMRC believably.

One tactic used includes number spoofing. This technique allows the caller to appear as though they are calling using the official HMRC contact number, but this is merely a clever trick facilitated through technology. HMRC is not the only organisation that people try to imitate. Banks are also a large target.

Since HMRC, banks, and other organisations have helped to introduce blocks on these spoofed numbers there has been a 100% drop in the number of reports of fraud calls to HMRC so far.

Phishing

Many of us who don’t keep a close watch on our inbox will often open it to find an influx of emails supposedly from HMRC. The vast majority of these, and any emails claiming you are due a tax rebate or you need to provide your personal payment details, are phishing scams. HMRC says, ‘you’ll never get an email, text message, or phone call from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) which:

  • Tells you about a tax rebate or penalty
  • Asks for your personal or payment information’

If you receive a similar email or text, don’t open it. Instead, report it to HMRC’s phishing team via:

  • Text – Forward suspicious texts to HMRC at 60599. This will cost your standard network rate.
  • Email – Contact phishin@hmrc.gov.uk

How to stay safe

Knowing how to spot phishing attempts and suspicious calls is the main priority when staying safe online. Any email, even if from another organisation, shouldn’t ask you to provide personal information such as bank account details. If you receive one, call the organisation directly, using their contact details from their official website, not the email, and ask them if they sent it to you. Make sure you have adequate anti-virus protection on your computer and remember, if you’re ever unsure, ask.

Hiring a professional accountant can help you keep your money safe. Big Hand is an experienced accounting company. We know how the industry works. We communicate with HMRC according to regulations while keeping your money, and your business, safe. For more information, call us on 0161 327 2911.

About the Author:

Since 2013, Sophie has been an integral part of the Big Hand team. As a social butterfly, Sophie is mostly responsible for introducing new clients to the company. If you’re an avid networking, you’re most likely to meet Sophie at local events. Alongside attracting new business, she also assists with account management, and she manages payroll on behalf of clients. For fun, Sophie loves to keep fit running or playing korfball with her team. She is also in the middle of learning a new language and so her most recent challenge is attempting to read Harry Potter in Dutch.