You should always be vigilant when it comes to phishing and scamming tactics as per the following list provided by HMRC enhancing those threats.

1. Tax Refund and Rebate Emails 

The scammers have generated email addresses that seemingly look like they are genuine and requires your attention. HMRC will never contact you via email to organise a tax rebate. Some of the known email addresses to distribute this scam are:

  • service.refund@hmrc.gov
  • secure@hmrc.co.uk
  • taxrefund-notice@hmrc.gov.uk
  • taxrefund@hmrc.gov.uk
  • refund-help@hmrc.gov.uk
  • refund.alert@hmrc.gov.uk
  • refunds@hmrc.gov.uk
  • rebate@hmrc.gov.uk
  • HM-Revenue-&-Customs@ztoro.com

2. Text Messages

Although HMRC does occasionally issue text messages, they will never ask for your personal or financial information. You could receive a text message scam that may offer you a tax refund and request your personal or financial details in return. Should you receive any, do not use any featured links and do not respond. To help HMRC with further investigations, you could forward the message to 60599 (charges will apply) or email phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting.

3. Tax Rebate Emails with PDF Attachments Phishing

Another known phishing scam you could come across, is sent in the form of an email with a request to download a PDF attachment. Once opened, the PDF will follow a link to a phishing site requiring your personal and financial information. We recommend that you do not to open the PDF and that you forward the email to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and delete the original. Please also visit the HMRC site to see more detailed examples of this scam.

4. NRL1 Form Completion Requests

If you are a landlord living abroad, you could be a target. A request form is sent to be completed and returned by email/fax/letter and asks for your personal information.

Form titles used in this scam have included:

  • Application for a tax-free account to receive rental income without deduction of tax for Non-UK Residents
  • Application for Withholding Certificate for Dispositions by Foreign Persons of UK Real Property Interests

These forms are not issued by HMRC and should not be completed. HMRC will never ask for your personal information via email or fax. If you have received any forms that you are unsure of, please do not hesitate to contact us for clarification.

5. Social Media

A recent scam has been identified on Twitter whereby direct messages are sent offering a tax refund. These messages are not from genuine HMRC social media accounts, and in any circumstances HMRC would never contact individuals via social media to issue a refund. In order to authenticate an HMRC social media account, you would need to forward the account link to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

6. Refund Companies

There are numerous scams which send out emails and text messages advertising their services to contact HMRC to organise a tax rebate for no fee. You should know that HMRC warn that these companies are not connected with HMRC and you should check the small print in such circumstances.

7. Export Clearance Emails (419 scams)

These emails inform you that goods you own have been held by customs and require payment before they can be released. The emails may also appear as though they have been sent from a genuine member of the HMRC team. To have an email verified, please forward to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

The following items have been included in the 419 previous scam emails:

  1. lottery winnings
  2. prize money
  3. seized goods or packages (held by customs and excise)
  4. certificates
  5. bonds
  6. inheritance payments

8. Direct Calls

This is a widely reported scam which often targets the elderly and the more vulnerable. You may receive a phone call or get a voicemail message claiming to be from HMRC and requesting your bank details, or other personal information, in order to receive tax advice or a refund. You may also receive other calls regarding a warning that HMRC is filing a lawsuit against the recipient and a payment must be made immediately. If you can’t verify the identity of the caller, HMRC recommend that you do not liaise any further. Contact the Action Fraud department you have been affected.

Apple iTunes Gift Card Scam

Apple Support has reported repeated scams whereby you are asked to make payments over the phone for items including utility bills, hospital bills, bail money and taxes. Although these scams have been committed using various methods, they have also included iTunes gift cards.

Apple have highlighted the following process for customers to be aware of to avoid the scam: ‘The victim receives a call instilling panic and urgency to make a payment by purchasing iTunes Gift Cards from the nearest retailer (convenience store, electronics retailer, etc.). After the cards have been purchased, the victim is asked to pay by sharing the 16-digit code on the back of the card with the caller over the phone.’

Apple has stated in the report that iTunes gift cards can only be used to purchase goods and services on the iTunes Store. If you are approached to use the cards for payment outside of iTunes, it is likely to be a scam. The recommendation is to report it to Action Fraud.

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business make sense out these scams and give you guidance navigating HMRC’s requirements and documentation. So please contact us now.

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