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  • Writer's pictureXero Queen

Scammers posing as HMRC

According to the National Cyber Security Centre, HMRC is one of the most often impersonated agencies by cyber criminals, with more then 67,000 fraudulent websites taken down. At a time when people are already struggling with the cost of living, it is crucial to know how to avoid these scams.

HMRC has warned that taxpayers are increasingly being targeted by fraudsters and should be mindful

of scams where the scammers can get hold of any personal information or bank details.

The Threat is Real

HMRC, have responded to more than 180,000 referrals of suspicious activity between September 2021 and August 2022 alone of these referrals, almost 81,000 related to scams offering fake tax rebates.

I have had two clients contact me who have received emails claiming to be from HMRC stating they are due a large rebate and to get this all they have to do is click the link in the email and put in their bank details. How tempting must this be, especially with people being ever squeezed with the cost of living crisis and Christmas just around the corner too. Luckily they contacted me first and I was able to advise them that this was a scam.

My husband has received several automated telephone messages telling him that he has underpaid National Insurance and to pay over the phone or face a criminal conviction, the messages are very threatening saying that bailiffs will be sent if this isn't paid. Fortunately he has heard me talking about it often enough that he just hung up, but it’s no surprise so many get caught out.

As HMRC begins trials of a new text response system to help ease demand on their phone lines, it will also be important that everyone is particularly wary of communications from them. Often links in text messages can be condensed to shorter links, which while easier to read on a phone, it also makes it easier for criminals to spoof.

Be Vigilant

First and foremost it’s vital to remember that HMRC would never call someone threatening arrest. If you ever receive a call like this alarm bells should be ringing. In fact, you're contacted by anyone claiming to be from HMRC in any way, you should take your time and check the advice on the government website

If you receive a suspicious text message that claims to be from HMRC this can be reported by forwarding the text message to 60599. Any suspicious emails should be forwarded to If you receive a suspicious phone call, this can be reported online.

It isn't only suspicious calls from HMRC you need to be wary of It’s also important to remain vigilant of any offer that may feel too good to be true. Because quite honestly, it most probably is. So if you receive any correspondence from HMRC saying you're due a rebate or that you are facing criminal action for an underpayment of tax or NI then STOP before you do anything and contact HMRC directly to put your mind at rest.

And lastly, be careful what you share on social media. It is wonderful to share success stories, of course it is we all like to do that, however criminals can use public information to create phishing emails and tailored

communications – perhaps if they’ve seen you have recently been celebrating a new business win. That is not to say you shouldn't shout about your successes of course you should but just be mindful of who see them.

Hopefully, you will escape without being targeted by fraudsters, but remember there are some things you can do to help keep your personal information safe.

First, never use the same password for everything, I know it's tempting to do that to make your life easier, but you are also making it easier for the scammer too! Secondly, always use multi-factor authentication or verification apps where possible to build in additional levels of security. Thirdly, always apply software updates on devices as soon as they become available. This applies to any device that is connected to the internet including your PC, laptop, tablet and even mobile phone these software updates often include security updates.

Finally, never share login information with anyone, regardless of how trustworthy they may seem. By following all of this advice hopefully you will be able to avoid being caught out by the scammers.

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