With the increased financial distress that COVID-19 brought with it amongst other things, people have been looking at the government for any little assistance they can get and are also wary of getting on the wrong side of HMRC. Cyber criminals have used this opportunity to increase their efforts of preying on these vulnerable people. They are currently using several mediums and methods including phone calls, phone and WhatsApp messages, Social media messages and posts etc to carry out various types of scams.
Please see below the list of methods and scams that are currently being used by the scammers and the “to dos”:
- Report all HMRC related phishing emails, suspicious phone calls and text messages. Even if you get the same or similar scam contacts often, report them.
- Do not open attachments or click any links in an email or text message, as they may contain malicious software or direct you to a misleading website.
- Delete any emails or texts once you’ve reported them.
They’ll probably send a text saying the following:
‘Due to the new lockdown support plan’ SMS
HMRC is aware of coronavirus (COVID-19) text scams telling customers they are entitled to funding due to the new lockdown support plan.
- HMRC will never ask for personal or financial information when we send text messages.
- Do not reply if you get a text message claiming to be from HMRC offering you a tax refund in exchange for personal or financial details. Do not open any links in the message.
- Send any phishing text messages to 60599 (network charges apply) or email email@example.com then delete it.
Suspicious phone calls
- A common one that scammers are using is an automated phone call scam which will tell you HMRC is filing a lawsuit against you, and to press 1 to speak to a caseworker to make a payment. We can confirm this is a scam and you should end the call immediately.
- This scam has been widely reported and often targets elderly and vulnerable people.
- Other scam calls may refer to National Insurance number fraud or offer a tax refund and request you to provide your bank or credit card information. If you cannot verify the identity of the caller, we recommend that you do not speak to them.
- If you’ve been a victim of the scam and suffered financial loss, report it to Action Fraud.
- In order to report the call please make a note of the following
- Date of the call
- Phone number used
- Content of the call
- HMRC will never use ‘WhatsApp’ to contact customers about a tax refund. If you receive any communication through ‘WhatsApp’ saying it’s from HMRC, it is a scam. Email details of the message to firstname.lastname@example.org then delete it.
Social media scams
- There was a recent scam on Twitter offering a tax refund.
- These messages are not from genuine HMRC social media accounts and are a scam. HMRC never uses social media to offer a tax rebate, request personal or financial information.
- If you cannot verify the identify of the social media account, send the details by email to: email@example.com and ignore it.
- HMRC is aware of companies that send emails or texts advertising their services. They offer to apply to HMRC for a tax rebate on your behalf, usually for a fee. These companies are not connected with HMRC in any way.
- You should read the ‘small print’ and disclaimers before using their services.
If in doubt, please free to contact your client manager at Elan or call the office number.