HMRC Scam – know what to look for

At this time of year, you will be getting chased if you should have submitted a tax return, but haven’t.  The deadline each year is 31st January.  So guess what, this is the ideal time for people to try and trick you.  After all, if you haven’t submitted your tax return, you will be expecting the Inland Revenue to be getting in touch soon – wouldn’t you? There is an HMRC Scam doing the rounds just now.

This is a screenshot of one I received this morning:

HMRC Scam Email

HMRC Scam Email

There’s a few things that give this away.

  1. It was sent to an email address I have that has never been linked to anything to do with the HMRC.
  2. It’s not addressed to me personally.  I have a real HMRC letter in front of me about my changing tax code – and it’s addressed “Dear, my salutation and name”.
  3. It has no tax information on it – eg. tax reference number, address, date, phone number, issuing office etc.
  4. I am not an Employer – I am an Employee – so why would they be expecting me to be completing an employers tax return?
  5. Formatting – I am by no means perfect when it comes to correctly formatting emails, documents and so on – but a government body that deals with millions of people every day – surely they can have a space between paragraphs – this one doesn’t between the first and second!
  6. Ehhmmm – it must reach them by 29 February 2014 – no wait, as soon as I can before 19 May 2013 (is that 2013 that has just passed??? 🙂 )- if I expect ANYONE to get figures and dates correct, it would be the tax man!
  7. It has a ZIP file attachment.  This should ring alarm bells straight away.  ZIP files (and many other types of file) can contain harmful viruses that can crash your computer, monitor you typing in your bank details and other passwords when on-line.

What Should You Do?

  1. NEVER open the attachment in the email.
  2. NEVER click on any links that may be in the email – they will take you to fraudulent web sites that will try and trick you into providing usernames and passwords.
  3. Forward the email to the HMRC at phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
  4. After forwarding the email, delete it.

If you would like more information on scams and phishing, please visit the HMRC’s website here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/fraud-scams.htm

I hope you’ve found this useful.  If you have any comments, please leave them below – particularly if you have any other warnings of other scams you’ve come across.

Thank you.

Mark Tait

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Carl - February 7, 2014

Not seen one of these yet but it may be buried somewhere among the mountain of other scam emails I get on a daily basis.

The bad formatting and errors you’ve pointed out never fails to amaze me in this type of email and is always a good sign something isn’t right. As long as the scammers sending these out cant get it right then thankfully less people will get taken in and ripped off.

    Mark Tait - February 7, 2014

    Hi Carl,

    I think it may be relatively easy for you/me/some others to spot – but I think about some people I know, who are not used to using much other than FB – and just aren’t aware of the signs. Hopefully this helps raise awareness of what to look out for, for those people.

    Thanks for your comment,

    All the best, Mark


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